by Barry Newton
Oil and water, the Hatfields and the McCoys, opera and rap; some combinations just conjure up incompatible images. Yet, scripture would suggest such differences are multiple magnitudes less than the irreconcilability of God and evil. Can there be any greater diametrically opposed forces?
It is precisely because of this incompatibility that God’s eternal plan appears so audacious. While people might like to imagine themselves on a good footing with God, evil forces persistently corrupt humanity, bringing spiritual death and placing people under God’s wrath (Ephesians 2:1-3). Therefore, God’s plan to organize under Christ the things in heaven and the things on earth is nothing short of incredible (Ephesians 1:9-10).
How could God possibly achieve bringing together the irreconcilability of holiness with what is evil? With Christ’s resurrection and exaltation over all powers in the heavenly realms, the stage was set (Ephesians 1:20-21) for Christ’s blood to redeem sinful individuals, transforming them into God’s holy, unblemished and adopted children (Ephesians 1:4-5).
Even these details do not exhaust the significant change God accomplishes through Christ. The redeemed are raised up with Christ to sit in the heavenly realms. Under Christ, the heavenly and earthly things are being united.
However, this is only one aspect of how God is working through Christ to place all things under Christ. Christ’s death also makes possible the joining together of Jew and Gentile into one people of God, where God’s Spirit dwells (Ephesians 2:11-22). Thus all those in Christ have access to the Father because of what Christ made possible (Ephesians 2:17-18;3:11-12). And so, it is once again under Christ that the heavenly and the earthly are brought together.
Should we be surprised then that God’s people, the church, are to provide a window into the wisdom and purpose of God’s plan (Ephesians 3:8-12)? The church should reflect God’s working through Christ in both the horizontal and vertical dimensions. Considering the havoc sin has wrecked, this is absolutely amazing.
However, this is not just a plan to cause us to marvel. Rather, Paul will insist that comprehending God’s purpose informs Christians how to live. Christians are to live worthily of God’s calling by “making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3).
After having explained God’s plan and how the believer is God’s workmanship created to do good works, the Christian is thus prepared to understand why he or she should “put on the new man who has been created in God’s image” (Ephesians 4:24). What began as an explanation of God’s audacious plan ends with general guidance for God’s people about how to further his work by living according to his purposes.
The meeting of the waters at Manaus, Brazil, admittedly pales in comparison to the reality of God’s working through Christ. Nevertheless, in a small way it reminds me of what God is doing through Christ. Two mighty rivers traveling at different speeds with contrasting colors merge to become one united powerful river under one name — the Amazon.