Parenting with Ephesians 1 in mind

In the first 14 verses of Ephesians, Paul lays out 6 benefits that God (the Father) has given to us through our immersion into Christ (the Son) (Romans 6:3-4). These benefits are “spiritual blessings” , enabling us to succeed in the new life we have been born into through (God) the Holy Spirit (John 3:5-8):

  1. A privileged standing before Him (v.4)
  2. A Father-son, family relationship with Him (vv.5-6)
  3. A forever forgiveness from Him (V.7)
  4. “Insider” truth about the purpose & end of human history (vv.8-10)
  5. A shared inheritance with Christ (vv.11-12)
  6. The Holy Spirit as a present benefit & guarantee of our inheritance (vv.13-14)

In reminding the Ephesians of these things, Paul encourages us  to live lives transformed as a result of keeping these realities on the forefront of our minds.

This leads to an important question:

Since every area of our lives are impacted by the Good News about the Kingdom of God, how can these six benefits help us to succeed in our everyday lives?

If I were to summarize the net effect of these blessings I would say the Father’s blessings transform us by changing our priorities. 

If we stop to examine  our interior lives, especially the sinful tendencies that reveal themselves in the trenches of marriage and parenting, and employment (anger, resentment, anxiety, selfishness, etc.), I think we will find we misvalue things and people. We tend to value personal projects, possessions, “me time”, convenience and comfort. We tend to misvalue the people who interfere with those “treasures”.

In considering the benefits the Father has given, we come face to face with a Divine Person who doesn’t operate that way. We are not obstacles to Him, so he doesn’t treat us as obstacles. We are made in His image, so he values us highly. The three persons of the Trinity always exist in perfect, loving community, so the Father doesn’t need our obedience or behavior to validate himself.

I’ll illustrate how these benefits have been personally helpful.

When I am doing something I enjoy, am immersed in, or “have” to do, I feel resentful when I have to intervene in a squabble with my children. Where does this feeling come from? It comes from my belief that my personal satisfaction is more important than my relationship to my children as their teacher and representative of their Heavenly Father. How can the six benefits help me?

  1. Since I have a privileged status before the God of Everything, I should reflect on what he values.
  2. Jesus died in order to secure a Father-Son relationship with me, therefore the relationship with my children which mirrors that most important of relationships is worth the small sacrifice of time I give.
  3. Since I have forever forgiveness, I must remove all bitterness or resentment towards my children from my heart.
  4. The Father’s long term plan is to unify all things in Christ. I should value helping my kids grow in their understanding and experience of life in Christ more than my personal comfort or entertainment.
  5. I share in the inexhaustible wealth the Father will lavish on me. Why am I making a big deal out of things that are passing away? The novel I’m reading or the show I’m watching are negligible in the face of eternity with Jesus.
  6. The Holy Spirit has been poured out on me as evidence of the transformed life I am called to. I have full access to the life of God through the Spirit so I can absolutely overcome my bad attitude or anxiety or anger.

In the same way that a board game will sit unused if you forget that you have it in your closet, these benefits–given to us by the Father in the Son through the Holy Spirit–can do nothing if we don’t keep them in focus. Remember, these are not things you DO they are blessings you HAVE. A sports car is meant to be driven. A gift card is not a bookmark. A gourmet meal is not a table decoration. Spend some time thinking about the things you misvalue and let the truth of God’s Word show you how to experience the benefit of living in the Family of God.

 

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