Friday, November 13, 2015

Putting a little order into the mix

Back in biblical times when priests would be anointed with oil, they would pour that oil from the jar right over their heads and allow it to flow down their bodies.  It was as though from the top of their head to the soles of their feet, they were being anointed for service.  There was much symbolism in the use of the oil, but it is this visualization of being "covered" and "it flowing freely down" over their body that is so similar to what Paul describes in this passage to the Ephesian church.  We are asked to "visualize" the blood of Jesus flowing freely from the cross - in so doing, it set us free (not the visualization, but the action of Christ's blood shed for us).  I don't like to think of all the "gore" of the cross, but it was definitely there.  Whether it was the thorns digging into this head as they encircled his head in mockery of him being the "King of Kings", or the spear thrust into the depths of his flesh as he hung from the tree, the blood of Jesus flowed freely, my friends.  There was no second-guessing "the plan" or purpose of the life of Jesus - it was the cross which was his mission. At the cross, we are set free - forgiven of all (not just part) our sinful ways - not by our actions or good deed, but by his grace (poured all over us).  Grace is kind of like the anointing oil used in biblical times - it flows freely and it covers all of us until we are fully and completely "made fit" for the service of the King!

Visualize this: His blood freely flowing down the cross, setting us free! We are forgiven for our sinful ways by the richness of His grace, which He has poured all over us. With all wisdom and insight, He has enlightened us to the great mystery at the center of His will. With immense pleasure, He laid out His intentions through Jesus, a plan that will climax when the time is right as He returns to create order and unity—both in heaven and on earth—when all things are brought together under the Anointed’s royal rule. In Him we stand to inherit even more. As His heirs, we are predestined to play a key role in His unfolding purpose that is energizing everything to conform to His will. As a result, we—the first to place our hope in the Anointed One—will live in a way to bring Him glory and praise. (Ephesians 1:7-12 VOICE)

God's plans and intentions don't remain a mystery to us any longer - they are revealed to us in the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  He went to the cross to redeem mankind that we might experience eternity with him - living and reigning with him for all time. One part of the "plan" we haven't quite realized yet is this "return of Christ" scripture speaks of in so many different ways.  It is this "return" which Paul says will "create order and unity" both in heaven and on earth.  As someone who doesn't see much "order or unity" in this world right now, I am looking forward to that day!  All things brought together under the authority of Christ.  Sometimes we think of what we "get out of" serving Christ - because these blessings are multiplied over and over again.  It is hard not to think of these things, but they aren't to be the primary focus.  Christ is the focus - the blessings are the "bennies" of serving a great big God who loves us with all that "bigness"!

The focus of our passage is this "key purpose" we each play in this unfolding of final and complete unity and order in this world.  As a mother, I learned a long, long time ago it was very, very hard to "make" anything conform to your will!  Kids have minds of their own and God's kids aren't much different!  We have minds which sometimes are in direct rebellion to the mind of Christ.  That should come as no surprise to any of us who have ever struggled to overcome a particular bad habit or sinful pattern in our lives!  Yet, God wraps us in his grace, allowing it to flow freely over our lives in such a way so as to "energize us" to actually desire his will - to come into alignment with his will.  To anyone who has been treated poorly by authority figures in their life, this "coming under authority" or "into alignment with his will" may seem a little threatening.  The one who treated you poorly actually left a "bad taste" in your mouth for what it means to be "aligned with someone's will".  I believe this is where the grace of God flowing freely over our lives comes into play - it anoints our minds, heals our emotions, and energizes our souls.

As God goes about bringing "all things into order" in this world, we are being brought closer and closer to the heart of God (all things being put in order within our own lives).  We are experiencing more and more of his grace, making it possible for us to bring him glory and honor.  Our lives serve a purpose - to proclaim the riches of his grace and the depth of his mercies.  In this way, we bring him multiplied glory and honor.  Yesterday we spoke about grace doing something "within" which becomes evident "without" on the countenance of our faces.  Today's passage isn't much different - the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives sets about to change us in those places where sin has ravaged us and left us "unfit" for service to the King of Kings.  In turn, the work done within is being reflected without.  I think the anointing oil poured over the heads of the priests who were called into service for the Lord may have symbolized this process of things within their lives "being put in order".  Some look at the cross of Christ and see chaos and all manner of "disorder", but in the perceived "disorder" of that day, the beginning of "re-ordering" began!

The "re-ordering" of our lives is only possible through the free-flow of his blood - and grace is free-flowing because his blood was!  We don't "set in order" or bring the "energizing" within.  God does that through the power of the blood of Jesus.  I had cats for a good many years and one of the things I had to do quite frequently was "set things back in order" which would become "toppled" our of place by their jumping here and there.  Occasionally, they'd miss the mark and take much of what was on the shelf or table with them crashing to the floor!  They didn't predict the slipperiness of the table and would skitter across it, setting things flying in their path!  Occasionally this resulted in a lamp being knocked over.  The lamp was still a lamp, but it could not function at the optimum for the lamp until it was set back in order on the table.  The same is true of our lives - things come into our lives which set things flying!  Sin snowballs and we see things spin out of our control.  In turn, we are left with a bit of a "mess".  We could just leave things as they are, but God loves us too much to see the "disorder" of sin left as it is.  He has a mission in mind - to set in order all which is without order - and that includes us!  Just sayin!