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All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. Ephesians 1:3-5 (NLT)


In my humble opinion, some of Paul’s most beautiful, glorious, convicting writing is in Ephesians. There is a grandeur here that involves God’s plan from the very creation of the world to the present day –and even into our individual lives as His beloved children.


There’s a backstory to Ephesians I’d like to revisit:


When Paul came to Ephesus, it was a Roman colony. Along with that came the Greco-Roman culture and a very hedonistic worship of the idols of that culture. Among those idols was Artemis, known to the Romans as Diana. As you may remember from Acts 19,  Paul started a riot in Ephesus by preaching that Jesus was LORD –and Artemis was not. That started to cut into sales of Artemis idols, which upset people making money from said idols. 


But the situation went much deeper than that. The cult of Artemis was staffed entirely by female officials, her temple in Ephesus was one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and temple prostitution was a significant source of revenue. 


Artemis was, big, big business. The silversmith who complained loudly in Acts said all of Asia, indeed the world, worshiped Artemis. 


Of course, the outcome of a cult that employed thousands of prostitutes all across the known world was a large number of unwanted babies. Roman culture reflected Roman values, so if you had a child you didn’t want in first-century Ephesus and throughout the Roman empire, it was absolutely legal to dispose of excess or unwanted babies simply by leaving them at the garbage dump or local dung heap to die of exposure. It was expected and carried no social stigma, especially if the child was deformed, illegitimate, a child of infidelity,  the family was poor, there was family conflict, or was just guilty of being one of too many children.


Sometimes the infant was  picked up by slavers and sold as a pet, a play companion for another child, or a prostitute. Sometimes the child was devoured by the dogs that scavenged public places. 


When Paul introduced the people of Ephesus to Jesus Christ, all that changed. Those early Christians in Ephesus went out into the dumps and dung-heaps, picked up those babies, brought them home, and raised them as their own children.  They even went through the Roman legal process of adopting those children.


The reference of the Holy Spirit as our seal in Ephesians 1:13 is a harkening to the official seal on the adoption papers:

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,” (NIV)


Here’s the thing about that: If a Roman citizen adopted a child, it was a legally-binding arrangement. A natural child could be disinherited, but an adopted child was an heir for life. 


As Paul continues through his letter to the Ephesians, he repeatedly reinforces the idea that our adoption was predestined, we are sealed as children of God, we are unified into one family, our inheritance as heirs is guaranteed, we were formerly dead and uncircumcised, we are saved by the grace of God, we are members of God’s household, we are no longer foreigners and strangers but members of God’s own family, and we are God’s handiwork created to do good works which He planned for us to do since the beginning of time itself.


And, throughout the words Paul writes to these people whom he never stops thanking God for, I can see the imagery of those children rescued from certain death or worse. One can only imagine the kind of Christians those formerly abandoned and left-to-die children would someday become.


One can only imagine how a world full of people who were rescued from that kind of fate, who had been exposed to the real and genuine love of Jesus that motivated people to live like Jesus would change this world.   


So, brothers and sisters, as we hear on Kinship Radio and the news all around us about what is taking place in the great temples of our present culture,  let it remind us all that no one has changed the world more than Jesus Christ and His adopted family –and He’s not done yet.


Today’s Praise

Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV)

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