I noticed at some point (beginning of chapter six, I think) that the phrase “In union with Him” recurs several times during Ephesians. Which makes sense, because Ephesians is largely a “now what?” book: it covers the things that happen to us and the things that we should be doing, now that we are in union with Him.
In union with Him…
…we are set free (1:7)
…we are created for a life of good actions which God has planned for us (2:10)
…we are held together and growing as a community into a dwelling-place for God (2:21-22)
…we are all heirs in God’s promises (3:6)
…we have boldness and confidence when we approach God (3:12)
…we no longer use sterile ways of thinking (4:17)
…we are to obey our parents and other authorities (6:1)
…we grow powerful in the Lord’s mighty strength (6:10)
In union with the Lord, our identity changes first. We are free of sin, and given a new life and a new calling.
The next thing to change is our relationships. God moves us to live in community, to glorify Him together. God uses the strengths and weaknesses and giftings of each person together, so that we no longer have to rely on our own abilities but have others to support us. We are not only free, but we are also family.
Then our thinking changes. We gain confidence and creativity and love for others. We learn what the truth looks like, and our words and actions create life.
And finally (finally!) our actions reflect our faith – we learn love for others and humility that makes it easier to submit to authority and put others first. We rely on God’s power and not our own.
Union with God is not to be taken lightly. It sweeps through and changes more than we realize. But it’s also a process, and some of the most visible signs are the ones that happen last. The presence of sin doesn’t mean the process isn’t happening. Making a mistake doesn’t change my identity, or my place in the community. It just means I’m not there yet.
Thankfully, God is there already. And He’s still holding my hand and lifting me higher.