“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3 NIV)
One of my pet peeves in life is an inaccurate clock, though sometimes I wish the clock on the back wall of our church sanctuary were running a little slow, especially when the sermon is running a little long. But the question can be raised, “who gets to set the time?” All of us appreciate that none of us get to choose the time to which all clocks in our time zone are synced. Rather we sync our watches and clocks to a higher authority. I have wondered if my iPhone syncs itself to Steve Job’s watch. Of course not but praise and worship, whether alone or together with our church family is an opportunity to ’sync up’ with a higher authority, God.
Sometimes our thoughts get confused during the week. But the thoughts we sing, the thoughts we pray, the thoughts we read from the scriptures especially, and hopefully the thoughts shared in the sermon when we preachers have done our homework and prayerwork, these are all thoughts that are to be a reality check, ’syncing us up’ again with the truth. So when our thoughts get messed up about ourselves, or about God, or about our relationship with Him, or with others, or about anything else, our weekly gathering should have the effect of getting our thinking back on track.
Paul’s expression of praise and worship in Ephesians 1:3-14, is one such moment of worship that is a reality check worth ’syncing up’ to. The Christians in and around Ephesus in the first century were immersed in a society full of paganism, and one could say they had been marinating in paganism with all its religious ideas and ethics for years if not decades and centuries before coming to faith in Jesus as Lord. Being still immersed in that culture these are folk who could use a “reality check” and the reminders we find in these verses. But what about us? When could we use a reality check?
Our passage under consideration is a wonderful passage to carry with us for a ’syncing up’ again to truth anytime. When we are full of complaint, we can realize that all the whining in the world is not going to change the fact that He “has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (verse 3). When we are tempted, we can realize that all the temptation in the world is not going to change the fact that He “chose us in [Christ] before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” (verse 4). When we are feeling down about ourselves, we can realize that all the self-doubt in the world is not going to change the fact that “in love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves” (verses 5,6). When we think there is no way God could love us, all the God-doubt in the world is not going to change the fact that “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us” (verses 7,8). When we think, as many people in our culture do, that intelligent people should outgrow their belief in God, all the scepticism in the world is not going to change the fact that “With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (verses 9,10). When we think that nothing is going our way, all the worry in the world is not going to change the fact that “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory” (verses 11,12). When we doubt our place among the people of God, all the spiritual angst in the world is not going to change the fact that “you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation” (verse 13). When we face health concerns, we realize that all the health problems in the world, even those that amount to a death sentence are not going to change the fact that “When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (verses 13,14).
Are your clocks ’synced up’ to a higher authority? Are you?
(All scripture references are taken from the NIV)