Isaiah 5-6 Ephesians 1
“I pray also that you will have greater understanding in your heart so you will know the hope to which he has called us and that you will know how rich and glorious are the blessings God has promised his holy people.” (Ephesians 1:18 NCV)
Paul spent two or three years in Ephesus. He’d had the chance to evangelize and disciple the new believers there. He had a great relationship with the church there and this epistle was designed to build on that relationship. As Paul sat in prison, contemplating his future, he was reminded that his citizenship ultimately was in heaven. This letter was written to encourage the Ephesians as they worked on shifting their thinking from being citizens of this world to becoming full-fledged citizens of the kingdom of Heaven. As great as being a Roman citizen might be, with all the rights and privileges gained by that citizenship, greater still are the joys and blessings of being a citizen of heaven.
We’d do well as Christians to consider doing that. I have many rights and privileges as an American. I’ve been to places where my status was celebrated by people in the land. I’ve been to places where my American citizenship wasn’t well-received. (Some Americans have set a bad example, needless to say.) It’s easy, though, to get so caught up in our rights and privileges as Americans, that we forget about our citizenship in heaven. We get embroiled in the political debates of our time that have devolved to the degree that instead of debate, it’s one side shouting at the other and the other side shouting back. We get caught up in a poor economy and don’t have enough money to help others, or a good economy and don’t want to help others because they should be able to succeed on their own. While Americans should enjoy the rights and privileges we have living here, if we’re followers of Christ, we should remember that our primary allegiance is to the kingdom of heaven. The God who used Cyrus and the Babylonians to accomplish political goals can use who He wants to in the world today. Instead of taking sides, our call is to minister to both sides recognizing that neither side is completely correct in beliefs or methods. Instead of hoarding our wealth, we need to find ways to use what God has given us in good times and bad times to help people in need. All those wealth indicators we have on earth are nothing but building materials in the new heaven and the new earth, so let’s use any wealth we have to increase God’s kingdom by meeting the needs of people who are homeless, hungry, thirsty, or lost without direction in life. Remember that anything we have on earth is nothing compared to the rich and glorious blessings God has for us.
Lord, it’s easy to get discouraged in this world. We see injustice flourishing, and we don’t think we can do anything – so we don’t. We see evil throughout society and feel helpless to stop. Remind me that You’re in control of this world. Teach me to work for small changes in the lives of those around me.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.