I posted the first two chapters of Ephesians last time in order to give Paul’s detailed account of the good news that brings great joy. The reason this account is so important is because it not only tells us what Christ did for us on the cross but also what that means to us…today, tomorrow, and forever. I will spend some time now expounding on some of my own thoughts about this.
Traditionally, we’ve tended to think of the cross as a transaction. Christ died for me, and as me, thus, wiping out my sins so that I can go to heaven when I die. While this is certainly true, it’s a very superficial understanding and misses the more stunning reality.
What we miss is the very source of this great joy. So, let’s look at Ephesians again, in bite-size chunks, in order to see if we can discover something most wonderful here.
Here’s the passage I want to look at today:
5–6 For it was always in his perfect plan to adopt us as his delightful children, through our union with Jesus, the Anointed One, so that his tremendous love that cascades over us would glorify his grace—for the same love he has for his Beloved One, Jesus, he has for us. And this unfolding plan brings him great pleasure! (Eph.1:5-6 TPT *)
The first thing we need to see is that it was always God’s intent to make us His delightful children. This is our identity. The word “delightful” means we bring Him great pleasure.
Did you get that? You bring God great pleasure. He delights in you.
The second thing about this astounding reality is that God did this by joining us to His Son. What you need to understand about this is that you cannot be un-joined. You didn’t do the joining, so you cannot do the un-joining. The only thing you can do is receive this mysterious reality by faith.
From this sense of belonging and delightful union, a strong relationship is formed and a positive identity emerges that produces real life change.
Here’s the math: belonging + identity = transformation.
By showing His tremendous love for us this way, God demonstrates just how radical His grace is toward us!
So, here’s my question. What do you honestly believe God’s response will be to you anytime you turn your heart toward Him? Think about that for a moment…
If your answer is anything other than delight and joy, you’re believing a lie. In fact, it’s probably the biggest lie ever believed by humankind from the beginning of time.
The real damage this lie does is separate us from God in our mind. You see, we won’t run into the arms of someone we think is not glad to see us, which is why so many people keep their distance from God.
And because of this lie, we hide behind a lot of things…like religion, trying to appease some god of our own imagination.
Don’t believe this is how God responds to you? Okay, work through this logically with me for a moment.
First, we know that in the presence of the Lord is overflowing joy and pleasure forevermore….
11 You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever. (Psalm 16:11 NASB)
Second, God loves you and me exactly the same as He loves Jesus. And He wants you to know this other-centered love so you will experience His joy.
…so that his tremendous love that cascades over us would glorify his grace—for the same love he has for his Beloved One, Jesus, he has for us. (Eph.1:6 TPT *)
9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. …11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:9, 11 NKJV *)
Therefore, presence equals infinite love, joy, and pleasure.
This is how you know you’re experiencing God’s presence.
Here’s another question. If you turn your heart toward God and sense disappointment or any other form of rejection, whose emotion is this?
Here’s a hint…it’s not God’s!
Here is another tragic flaw that comes from believing this lie. As human beings, we always seek that which creates the most joy and pleasure in our lives. We were created to find these in our relationship with God and with others.
But if we don’t find joy and pleasure at their Source, we will seek out weak counterfeits that never deliver on their promises and often lead to all kinds of pain, regret, and bondage.
Beloved, please hear this. When you come to God it’s because He’s already set you up, by His grace, to be delighted in. He wants you to walk in His overflowing love and joy and pleasure and give it away to others.
The point here is, He’s always glad to see you.
This is probably the single most transforming aspect of our relationship with the Great “I Am.” His overwhelming, cascading love floods our hearts with great joy, which heals us from all of the “I am not’s” that have poisoned our souls.
This is true no matter who you are, because His love is unconditional, which means it has no conditions.
And that’s the good news that brings great joy!
“The point here is, He’s always glad to see you.”
I’m going to spend another forty years slowly getting used to this. Thanks for being the next link in the chain.
You’re welcome, Brandon, and I hear you! I’ve had a LOT to unlearn over the last 40 years as a Christian. It’s interesting, I found this out accidentally at first, with several personal encounters with God that were so contrary to what I thought He was like (or was taught), then I found out that this is exactly what He’s also like in Scripture. He IS love and joy. We just seemed to have passed over it and painted Him with a different brush. Actually, He keeps getting better than I think He is, so we’re really all on the same journey here. But it’s the most life-giving and exciting journey one could ever be on. 🙂
This is just beautiful, Mel. This is that truth that just takes your breath away, leaves you helpless. We have access to so much kindness, so much love and unmerited favor. Forever…..
Something that really once helped me, our kitchen sink just kind of rotted away one day and fell to the floor. So I rolled my eyes, shut the water off, and didn’t say a thing to my hubby. I figured he was too busy, couldn’t be bothered to fix it, he’d just get grumpy, he doesn’t really care, he never listens to me anyway. Took him till the next day to even notice the kitchen sink was missing, but when he did he was hurt that no one had said anything. Somehow he knew that the things I was thinking about him were not very charitable. Ha! He also probably knew some of them were warranted.
So anyway, in that very moment I suddenly realized, Oh my goodness, I tend to think those very same things about God who actually really is perfect and Holy! My perceptions of the Lord were all false and unwarranted. Totally false, but yes, I had been perceiving the Lord as if, “He was too busy, couldn’t be bothered to fix it, He’d just get grumpy, He doesn’t really care, He never listens to me anyway.” It was a profound revelation, because it had never even occurred to me that we could actually grieve Him by not letting Him delight in us, by keeping Him at a distance, by perceiving Him as grumpy and indifferent.
Yup, “takes your breath away” pretty much sums it up!
That is SO true. We tend to project our attitudes and experiences with people on to God, oftentimes without even realizing it. And we even make it some badge of honor that we “don’t bother God,” and we keep Him so transcendent that we make distance where there is none. And, like you said, there’s nothing really honoring about not letting God delight in us. It’s a false humility of the religious kind that really reveals more about us than about God.
Beautiful! Thank you for sharing.
Pingback: Your sins are canceled…now receive the gospel! | In My Father's House
You wrote…”And because of this lie, we hide behind a lot of things…like religion, trying to appease some god of our own imagination.”
You hit the nail on the head with that one. It saddens me to see some really wonderful people hiding behind hard religious doctrine because they cannot see a Heavenly Father who is greater than their own individual flaws.
Yup, it’s a lot of projecting our issues onto God.