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By the Will of God

Click here to read Ephesians 1 on BibleGateway.com

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God…” Ephesians 1:1

Think of an animal that starts with K.  Now think of a continent.

Did you think of Australia?  Why?  Is it because I have eerie powers and I can read your mind?  Possibly, if you’re a weak-minded fool and are susceptible to old Jedi mind tricks.  But for the rest of you, if you were just asked to think of a continent out of the blue, would you automatically think of Australia? Probably not.  But the previous question gets your mind thinking Down Under (since most people think of kangaroos or koalas), and your mind (at least most people’s minds) will keep going down the same path.  That’s how our minds work; we get an initial starting point, and everything that comes after reflects it.

WILL POWER

Have you ever thought about the way Paul opens his letters?  They almost all start with Paul identifying himself, as well as the church/person he is writing to.  But he doesn’t just say, “hey Goobadiah, it’s me Paul.”    In the case of the Ephesians in our chapter today, he opens by saying “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.”  Notice how Paul sets the initial frame – what he is doing with his life at that moment is not just his decision; it is by the will of God.  Everything that he writes in the letter after that is framed by that knowledge and self-identity.  That is his basis for viewing the world.

If you wrote a letter, would you be comfortable say that what you are doing now is by the will of God?  Are you confident you are where God wants you to be?  Are you “Dave, a plumber by the will of God.” Or “Denise – a lawyer by the will of God.” Or “Francis – changing poopy diapers by the will of God.”   If you saw everything in your life as doing it for God and by His will, how would your attitude or actions change? Do you think that might affect the way you view your job, or education, or ministry?

When you think of yourself, or when people ask you one thing about yourself at those ice-breakers that we all love so much, does your identity in Christ come to your mind first?  If someone were to ask you to write a brief paragraph about you, what is the first thing you would say?  Would it be “parent,” or “doctor,” or “unicycler”?  Or do you know that you are Christ’s first and foremost?

FOR ALL IN TENTS AND PURPOSES

Of course, you may have to do things for a season in order to pay the bills; nobody wants their mac and cheese to get repossessed.  But just because you’re delivering pizzas, you could still say “Bill – teaching Sunday School by the will of God.”  Your vocation doesn’t necessarily sumup who you are;  Paul was a tentmaker in addition to being an apostle after all.  But his identity was in Christ; he didn’t start his letters by saying “Tentmaker Paul.”  His first identity, the initial impression by which he sees the world and others, is through the lens of Jesus

Our first identity, before the job title, before the spouse, before the family name – our very core identity needs to be rooted in Christ.  If (and probably when) most of those other things disappear or fade, we are still His; we still remain who we are, because He remains who He is.  Forever, unchanging, unwavering, unquestionably the same Jesus you met that first time.   No matter what you do, or where you go, or who you’re with, Jesus is still the one by whom and through whom we all have our being.

Even the wallabies.

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