Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Ephesians. The mystery illustrated.

Heading into chapter 6 Paul wraps up his comments on family and the principle of submitting to one another before summarizing his message with the Armor of God analogy. 
And please keep in mind that Paul is writing to an audience of those professing belief in God and his Son, Jesus Christ. The principles and teachings given may run contrary to your beliefs if you do not profess such. However, I contend that insights can be gleaned from any source whether it follows your belief system or not. May you be willing to read with an open mind and heart. Take what may be helpful or put it all aside. 

Not to belabor the point addressed in chapter 5 but, hopefully, providing further clarification; I insert here a couple of comments regarding the principle of submission. They are taken from the footnotes in the Life Application Bible (NTL) for another letter written by Paul to the church of Corinth.  In that letter to the Corinthian believers he also addresses this principle. 
The explanation presented is that submission is a key element in the smooth functioning of any business, government or family.  They go on to say: "God ordained submission in certain relationships to prevent chaos. It is essential to understand that submission is not surrender, withdrawal or apathy. It does not mean inferiority, because  God created all people in his image and all have equal value. Submission is mutual commitment and cooperation. Thus, God calls for submission among equals. He did not make the man superior, he made a way for a husband and wife to work together….Submission between equals is submission by choice, not by force." (a few back up verses for anyone interested: Genesis 1:26,27; Romans 10:12; Galatians 3:24-29

Now, looking back to the beginning-Paul started this letter expounding on the unity of peoples through their belief in Christ. How belief in Christ now unites Jews and Gentiles (in essence, nations) together as one people.
"He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups." Ephesians 2:14-15 
Concept: 2 different coming together as one in Christ.

Then, as Paul is winding down this letter he implies that marriage between a man and a woman demonstrates the mystery of Christ. 

"This is a great mystery but it is an example of the way Christ and the church are one." How? "A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one." (chapter 5:31-33) 

Can I totally wrap my brain around this concept? No, but you know what? I don't have to! I am not God. But I can wrap my brain around this: Christ in submission to the father who loved the world gave himself for us that we may be united with him as one to become family. The family of God. So a man gives himself to a woman that they may become one, to unite to become a family. As I stated in the previous post on chapter 5: Family is God's role model of life and relationships.  Including our relationship with Him.  He calls himself our Father, we are His children. 
"And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, 
says the Lord Almighty." II Corinthians 6:18
"But to all who believed him and accepted him, 
he gave the right to become children of God." John 1:12

Family is a critical element in God's design for us 
and it begins with marriage. 

Marriage illustrates the oneness we have in Christ which Paul calls the mystery of Christ.  2 different coming together in a relationship of oneness. 

 "Because I (Jesus) live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you." John 14:20 
"God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles
the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you,..." Colossians 1:27

As 2 different people groups - the Jew and Gentiles in Christ united into one to become the body of Christ the church, the family of God.
So 2 different genders, a man and woman come together in Christ as one to create a family
And in that equality in Christ we are called to mutual commitment and cooperation; submission among equals.

And it is in light of this principle that Paul then delves into his analogy of putting on the whole Armor of God. 

Because living the Christian life is not going to be easy, God does not leave us to our own devices. He knows it will take some supernatural help for us humans to overcome our desires to do things our way rather than His way. To submit to and love one another as Christ our example has demonstrated runs contrary to our human nature. Next post will finish us out as we see how Paul equates different aspects of our gift of salvation to the various pieces of armor which the Roman soldiers would put on for their protection and help.

Gleanings in a nutshell:
-Walk in the example of Christ.
-Family is God's role model of life and relationships.

Until next time may you rest in God's grace and peace to sustain you one day at a time. 

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