“Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus.” -Ephesians 2:7, The Message
This morning I was reading Ephesians in Eugene Peterson’s, The Message, and I came across the verse quoted above.
Ephesians is one of my favorite New Testament letters for many reasons. But one reason is that it reveals how to thrive in God’s kingdom.
Oftentimes, we associate God having us right where he wants us so he can punish us or worse. We still struggle with a perception of God as an angry, wrathful, violent God who punishes our moral transgressions.
But that is not the God revealed in Jesus.
Jesus operated from a completely different framework. God was his loving “abba” Father. God was the world’s creator, lover and redeemer. God was the faithful rescuer of humanity and the world, willing to plunge to the deepest depths to restore his world.
And Jesus fully embodied this abundantly loving, compassionate, caring, healing, restoring, merciful God. As Hebrew 1:3 states, “He is the shining reflection of God’s own glory, the precise expression of his own very being.”
So when God finally gets us where he wants us, it’s to lavish us with his love. And God is using all the time in this age and the next to accomplish this.
This is the framework from which we must retrain our thinking regarding God. He is not an angry, vengeful God. He is the one, according to just the introductory verses of Ephesians, who blessed us, chose us, adopted us, redeemed us, revealed his plans to us, sealed us by his Spirit, and seated us with Jesus in the heavenly realms.
And Paul continues to pray that our very core is opened to this reality of God so that we may live and operate from it (Ephesians 1:17-23). For this is key to our flourishing in God’s world and being the ongoing voice, action and presence of Jesus as his Body.