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THOUGHTS FROM EPHESIANS

2 THE AUTHENTIC CHRISTIAN

 A second meditation on Ephesians 1:1.

 

The Letter to the Ephesians is addressed to 'the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus'.

Our minds automatically understand 'saint' to mean very, very good, but the word means 'set apart'.

When a person is called 'a saint' or 'holy' the focus is not primarily on what the person is in themselves, but on the fact that God has set them apart as a unique people, distinguished from all others. They have been set apart by God to be his very own people. They are no longer for common use – they are holy. They no longer belong to themselves – they are holy – the special and treasured possession of God.

These people are also called 'the faithful' – they are people who believe. This believing has no significance in itself. They are not called 'faithful' because they have a great capacity to believe anything at all. Their faith, their believing, has a specific focus and a specific location.

Christians believe 'in Christ Jesus'. He is the focus or object of their faith. It is he who gives significance to their faith. The same amount or strength of faith focused in any other object is irrelevant from God's perspective. True faith does not look at itself; it is focused on Jesus Christ and takes its value, its validity, its significance and its power from Jesus Christ.

There is a second dimension to this 'faithful in Christ Jesus': these saints, these believers, are those who are 'in Christ Jesus'. Paul's letter to the Ephesians repeatedly refers to the fact that Christians are 'in Christ'. This concept effectively destroys any idea we might have that there is something in us that merits the blessings of salvation. We are not called 'saints' because of something we are or have done; we are not called 'faithful' because of any great power or ability of our faith. Rather, we are called 'saints' and 'faithful' specifically because we are 'in Christ Jesus'.

Authentic Christians are those who are in Christ Jesus – those whose relationship with God is grounded solely in Christ and his saving work, whose trust and whose identity is not in themselves, but in Christ alone.

There is a third dimension to 'faithful in Christ Jesus': that this faith, this connection to Christ, is not a temporary thing, indeed it can never be a temporary, transient thing that lasts for a moment then transfers allegiance to some other god. To authentically believe in Christ, to have authentic faith in Christ, is to have a faith in him that knows absolutely, that is permanently convinced, that here, in this one place, here in the Lord Jesus Christ, one has found at last him who is the one true God, and, having found him, will never turn aside from him.

Faced with the option of forsaking Jesus Chist, the authentic Christian exclaims with Simon Peter: 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.' [John 6:68,69].

 

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2006, 2010