I am preaching on Ephesians 1:3-14 tomorrow. I gave the Gospel text, Mark 6:14-29, some consideration, but decided against the beheading of John the Baptist in favor of the treasure Paul points to in Ephesians. There is a lot to work with in the Mark text, but Ephesians 1 will provide our congregation with so much of what is needed right now. It is a treasure trove of the realities for life provided by Jesus; affirmations for anyone who needs a reminder of who she is in Christ. As Paul wrote it, God has provided, “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, . . . ” and proceeds with an ornate list of treasure the Ephesian church could find in Christ. It was there in their midst, visible to those who would but unpack it.
I’ll highlight several items of treasure Paul mentioned in my sermon and posted to this blog tomorrow. But, I’m doing some thinking on what it was that was keeping the church from remembering what they had in Christ. The first thing that comes to mind is persecution. And then there was economic challenge of the day, mixed in with the ordinary challenges of life and hardships at that time. There was, as always, the challenge of distractions that draw a follower’s attention and focus away from what really matters, looking at things that glitter yet are not gold. Not the kind of gold in the treasure God provided in Jesus.
Preachers and people in their congregations aren’t much different today than for the church in Ephesus. In fact, we have even more information about the treasure than they did. We are also even more distracted, looking on the outside of the treasure, allowing ourselves to be drawn away from what is within us in Christ.
We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. —Thornton Wilder