I've been studying in the book of Ephesians during my morning quiet times lately. I haven't gotten very far yet, not because of neglect, but because I am working through it very slowly, trying to savor it carefully.
For a few days I camped on a single verse, Ephesians 1:2: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." I wrote down as many things as I could about what the words "grace" and "peace" mean in this context. For example, after reading a bunch of other verses about peace, I jotted down that it seems to be conditional on faith, obedience, repentance, purity, unity, and devotion to God. Peace is not passive at all. It takes effort to stay focused on the goodness of God -- and to not let our peace be robbed by bitterness, fear, conflict, busyness, spiritual resistance, conflict with others, or even subtle apathy! Not only can we have peace with God (through the sacrifice of Christ, who brought us reconciliation), but we should also be peacemakers who seek reconciliation with others (and for others) in a way which honors our Prince of Peace. However, we should not make peace with sin (letting it "be" in our lives) or with elements of our culture which defy the gracious reign of God. Peace is a shalom wholeness, a calmed heart in the midst of chaos.
This morning I meditated on the phrases in verse 10, "to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth." Obviously, this speaks again of our reconciliation between God in heaven and we humans on earth. But I think it goes farther than that. There is a hint here of our stewardship over the things in our lives, what goes on around us as we walk on this rocky globe that the LORD has bestowed upon us. As we appreciate the natural beauty and wonder of the earth, we can thank God for this bounteous gift and worship him as the magnificent Creator of all. As creative people created in the image of our Creator, we can also use our redeemed imaginations, our God-given creativity, to enrich and influence those around us in a way that clearly points them to Christ the Savior. I read an article on Mission Network News yesterday about the Fonderie, a ministry in Paris which is bridging the gap between the church and the arts community. Yes! As an aspiring poet, I seek to reflect the beauty of the Lord and bring praise to Jesus. But this pursuit is not limited to the arts. I can bring all areas of my life -- marriage, mothering, homemaking, church, friendships, teaching, writing, recreation and entertainment -- under his Lordship for his glory. I must not live a fragmented, fractured life. All of these "things" can be united in Christ, so I can live a fully cohesive and integrated "shalom" life of wholeness, and so I can serve others from a full heart. I encourage you to do the same!
As I work my way through the rest of Ephesians, I trust that God will grant me even more understanding, inspiration, and enthusiasm for life!