God’s Rich Blessings
Open Your Bible
Ephesians 1:1-14, John 1:12-13, 1 Peter 1:18-21
BY Jessica Lamb
When my parents moved our family to Texas in the early ’90s, we joined a large church in our new town. We found our place at a contemporary Sunday service, where worship lyrics were projected onto walls and the pastor swapped his wooden pulpit for a music stand. After service, I’d run around back corridors of the auditorium with friends, playing hide-and-seek in racks of white baptismal robes.
We often made weekend trips back to our native Arkansas, where our presence on Sundays at my grandparents’ small church was always warmly noticed. We’d slide down the same pew my grandparents had held since the 1970s, and I practiced my reading skills in the order of service, asking my grandmother in loud whispers what words like invocation and kyrie meant.
Now, my husband and I meet with our church in a middle school gym. Our four-year-old daughter delights in seeing the yellow school buses lined up outside every Sunday morning, almost as much as she enjoys refusing to high-five the greeters as she enters the building.
The list of differences between these churches isn’t short, spanning from order of service to how attendees dress, from views on baptism to how internal debates about new carpet might be resolved. Still, when I think about these church families—their love for Jesus and one another—I stop what I’m doing to thank God for them (Ephesians 1:15–16). Why?
Because as Paul constantly reminds his readers, our shared faith is more essential than our differences. The church at Ephesus needed to hear the call to focus on what they held in common, both as a local community and as believers who shared the same faith as the broader Church in places like Galatia, Philippi, Rome, and beyond. Don’t miss the words repeated over and over in these opening verses: as believers, we are defined both as individuals and as a people by who we are in Him. We share “spiritual blessings” from God with one another. We are called faithful saints in Christ Jesus. In Him we have redemption, forgiveness, grace. In Him we have received an inheritance. In Him we were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. Our hope is in Him.
Throughout this letter, Paul will call his readers to be unified, to not forget the goodness and truth of all we hold in common. Part of the miracle of our faith is that two thousand years later, we are a part of this same family. Our brothers and sisters are sitting next to us on Sunday mornings, they are reading the Word across our towns and around the world, and they were listening to Paul’s letter at a house in Ephesus in the early AD 60s. We are all brought together in Jesus Christ.
As the Church, we are the Body of Christ, His hands and feet, called to proclaim His goodness to a lost and broken world. We are a people raised to new life with Jesus. We can link arms with believers around the world and throughout the centuries because we are a people who can confidently say together, “Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ” (v.3).
Praise God, for the wild, enduring miracle that is the Body of Christ!