There’s a story about Albert Einstein taking the train to speak at a meeting. The conductor stopped by to punch his ticket but the great scientist couldn’t find it anywhere. Not in his pockets; not in his briefcase. The conductor said, ‘not to worry, sir. I know who you are, Dr Einstein. I’m sure you bought a ticket.’ As he moved away he looked back to see Einstein scrabbling on the floor still looking for his ticket. When the conductor tried to reassure him, Einstein said, ‘I also know who I am. What I don’t know is where I am going.’
We live in a time where it can be difficult to know where we are heading as we emerge from the restrictions we have been living under. Amongst all this uncertainty, thankfully the Church of England delivers us an absolute feast of readings from the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians during July and August. Ephesians addresses the big questions of life “Who am I?” “Where do I belong?” “What am I living for?”
To summarise answer we find presented in Ephesians to these primal questions we only need two word, ‘in Christ’. Our identity is ‘in Christ’, we find our place of belonging ‘in Christ’ and our purpose is ‘in Christ’.
John Stott describes Ephesians as ‘…a marvellous concise, yet comprehensive, summary of the Christian good news and its implications’. It was also John Calvin’s favourite letter.
We’ve seen so much change in the last 18 months during the pandemic. Our whole way of life has been suddenly interrupted and it is clear that even as the restrictions are eased, life is going to be different.
Change can be good thing, but it can also be avoided, resisted and reversed. Ephesians reveals to us that God has something better than change for us as Christians – transformation! Transformation in Christ can not be avoid, resisted or reversed. Transformation is eternal!
When we understand our identity ‘in Christ’, when we know that we belong ‘in Christ’, and when we realise our purpose ‘in Christ’ we are transformed.
One of the changes to our lives that I’m sure we are all longing to see transformed is the disconnection we’ve experienced. We were not made to live lives that are socially distanced.
In the letter to the Ephesians, Paul addresses this issue of disconnection between Jew, Gentile, even different churches communities, to emphasise how ‘in Christ’, all are brought together, unified into a single household.
He encourages the church to embrace their new identity as a community connected through Christ by changing the way they live their lives together, acknowledging our common adoption into Christ’s body.
This summer we will move from the governments restrictions to working out how to live with this virus. It is my hope that reading through Ephesians will help us consider not just what we want to do, but who we want to be. May we discover in greater depth what it means to be a family, united, connected and reconciled to each other ‘in Christ’.