Today’s Reading: Ephesians 3
As my 12 year old daughter Annika and I were driving in the car last week, she said to me, “Mom, what is the American Dream”? I reminded her that the United States was founded by immigrants who fled their homeland in search of a better life. Freedom from the King of England, who ruled over them without giving them a representative voice in the government, was their goal. Our nation was founded on the principle of equal opportunity – everyone should have a chance. The American Dream, more specifically, is the ideal that every person should have an equal opportunity to achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination, and initiative.
As we celebrate Intendance Day, the 243rd anniversary of the United States, it is fitting that our scripture today is the 3rd chapter of Ephesians (Galatians 5 would have been even better, but Ephesians 3 will do). Paul’s message in this chapter was about God’s Plan. Do you see the parallel? God’s plan is also based on the principle of equal opportunity.
And this is God’s plan: Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:6).
Salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is about equal opportunity because it is available to EVERYONE. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you came from or what you’ve done. By putting your faith in Jesus Christ, the blood he shed on the cross covers your sins and makes you acceptable to God. Here’s where the parallel ends though – unlike the American Dream, salvation cannot be earned through hard work, determination, and initiative. It is a gift of God.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Every year when you watch the 4th of July fireworks finale while listening to Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA, do you feel a strong wave of patriotism wash over you? Sometimes it makes me passionately sing along, sometimes it makes me put my hand on my heart, but every time it makes me grateful for those who gave their lives to fight for and protect the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. Did you notice a similar finale in Ephesians 3? In verses 3:14-21, Paul was overcome with emotion as he remembered everything God had done, he passionately prayed for the church at Ephesus and closed by giving all glory and praise to God. Does Ephesians 3:20-21 stir emotion in you? Instead of putting our hands on our hearts this July 4th, Paul’s finale in Ephesians 3 should bring us to our knees.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21).