This week we begin a new series in the book of Ephesisans, a letter written by the Apostle Paul to a church that was surrounded by paganism. It boasted as holding one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, a temple dedicated to the goddess Artimis. Ephesus was also a key city on the trade route between Asia and Europe, making it one of the more diverse cities of that time. Between its paganism and pluralism, the challenges that the Ephesian church faced were not unlike the challenges we are now facing in America.
One of those challenges is a crisis in identity. Identity is the idea of who we are. Identity determines what a culture and people will become. What we are discovering in America is that as God's voice diminishes, as we stray further and further from our Christian founding, man's idea of who he is increases. And so we shouldn't be suprised that we are now facing a crisis of idenity in the areas of race, faith, purpose and sexuality.
God's voice from His word gives us great clarity about who we are. God's definition of who man is our greatest hope for racial reconcilation and justice. God's word is what will enable us to have a right understanding about sexuality. When man's voice becomes greater than God's voice, than instead of reconciliation and justice, we will give ourselves over increasingly to idenity politics and bitterness between people.
When the Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesian church in Eph 3:14-15, he prayed to our Father in heaven, by "whom every family in heaven and earth is named." This understanding of humanity is the basis of seeing "all men as created equal." When we remove God's voice on who man is, the philosophy of Darwinism that sees man as merely evolved actually works against our ability towards justice and equality.
This week in Ephesians we will simply look at two basic truths regarding identity. The first is that in Christ, all of us are "saints" set apart by God. We are first set apart in relationship with Him and then to live out "holy" lives that reflect God's goodness to a world of evil. The second truth we will look at is this: as saints, we now become beneficiaries of God's grace and peace. Grace unto salvation and daily living, and peace in relationship with God, one another and ourselves.
When we see ourselves as "saints" set apart by God and recipients of His grace and peace, it radically transforms us in a world of trouble. Though we are surrounded a world in darkness, we have God's voice to provide answers for every area of life.