WHO ARE YOU?

Ephesians 1:3-14 — New Revised Standard Version
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

Who Are You

The Perplexity of Self

Who Are You?
I once was told by a pastor-friend
of the evangelical/fundamentalist persuasion
that he found nothing to helpful
for himself in anything Jesus said,
but that it was Paul who spoke to him the most.
It has taken me two degrees in theology
and much reflection to figure out
why he would say such a thing.
Thirteen books in the New Testament
have traditionally
been considered
to be written by Paul.
New Testament scholar, Marc Borg,
and others,
have deduced that Paul
may have only written seven of them:
Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians,
Philippians, Philemon, and 1 Thessalonians.
Our text today,
Ephesians,
was not written by Paul,
and not written to the Ephesians,
but to a wider,
more mystical congregation,
worshiping a sterile,
cosmic Christ,
not a sweaty,
earthy Jesus.
Many of the issues Paul faced,
such as the fundamental spiritual
differences between
Jews and Gentiles
in the wider church setting,
were resolved and now in the past
for this writer,
who may not be Paul,
yet who was clearly writing out of the
Pauline tradition and community.
The questions that arise for me
from this text are,
who are we,
who are you,
and who are you not?
By this reading,
members of the “church”
are adopted by God as God’s children,
redeemed, forgiven,
rich in God’s grace,
God’s own.
But this “church,” us,
is, also for this writer,
a spiritual,
mystical, clannish, churchy,
tribal contraption.
Is this who we are, really?
Are you,
we,
really what is claimed
for us in this passage?
Understand,
this writer’s agenda
is more about defining
what it means to be church
and what it means
to be a follower of Jesus the Christ,
than one who walks with
Jesus the man from Nazareth,
and emulates his very
concrete examples
and teachings.
In contrast to my friend,
I have generally been more
of a Jesus-person
than a Christ-person.
Less a follower of the cosmic Christ
than one who walks
with the grittiness of a real human Jesus.
Given the choice,
and I am daily,
I would choose to be
known as one who facilitates healing,
feeds the hungry,
clothes the naked,
and fights for the justice of God,
like Jesus,
than one who is known
by some mystical church membership.
But I only answer for myself.
What about you?
How do you define yourself?
Who do you choose to follow?
And, what does that mean for you?
You see,
I think that the cosmically oriented congregations
tend to stop with worship
not having a lot of connection
to the exigency of
any outside their frame of reference,
while the more identified to the
sweaty, earthy Jesus
have a deeply rooted sense
of the existential needs
of all creation.

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