Ephesians 1:3-16. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places… 15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints. 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.
The greatest of all our spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus is the Father’s deep love for us. All of the blessings that Paul has listed in Ephesians 1:3-14 flow from God’s love. Because He loves us God has forgiven us, and redeemed us, and adopted us. And this love was not in response to anything. God loves us because he loves us, not because we have done anything to deserve that love. In fact he loved us even before we were born. “IN LOVE he predestined us.” Before time began he loved us.
And now the result of this great spiritual blessing is our love for all the saints.
Here again Paul’s thoughts are not something he just made up. He is telling us what our Savior Jesus has already told us.
John 13:34-35. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
And then, just as Paul does here, Jesus connects this new commandment to our reception of the Holy Spirit.
John 14:15-17. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,17 even the Spirit of truth.
What all this means is that our love for each other is not self-produced. Rather it is produced by our union with Christ. God’s love for us in Christ bears the fruit of Christ’s love in our lives. This is why Paul is giving thanks – because their love for each other is proof of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s proof that they have the Holy Spirit. It is the proof of being blessed.
This is why we said that love must follow faith. Only when I believe that I am fully loved by God and that this love is unconditional and eternal, only then will I be able to freely love unconditionally. Only then will I have nothing to lose, nothing to prove, nothing to gain. When I have this kind of freedom, the freedom that only comes from the love of God in Christ, then I can love ALL the saints.
All the Saints
This is the crux of the matter: ALL. The love of Christ in us does not pick and choose who to love. It does not discriminate. There are no favorites. No racism, sexism, classism, or any other kind of ism. Like a parent who loves all of their children equally (maybe differently, but equally), there is no proportional loving in Christ. The cross has leveled the ground for all of us.
Some think there is a difference between Christ’s command to love one another and Christ’s command to love our enemies, but we could argue that there actually is no difference. The church is a gathering of natural enemies. Think about the church in Paul’s day. Jews and Gentiles now joined in Christ (this will be Ephesians 2-3 btw). This is both a miracle and a mystery. These two groups of people would never have worshiped together, lived together, sung together, loved each other – not before Christ.
But now Paul is encouraged that they have love for ALL the saints. Not just those saints that are like them. But even the saints that they have nothing in common with, nothing except Jesus. Because he is enough.
This is a love that can and must love through culture, through history, through past oppression, through systemic injustice, through rivalry, through misunderstanding, through ignorance. Through everything. Christ has purchased this love for us. And he modeled this love for us. He loved us FIRST. When we were still his enemies.
“To live is Christ” has blessed us with the eternal love of God. A love that never fails even when we do. This same love compels us to love, not just the saints we like, but ALL the saints. That is what love is – loving those that you might not like. Loving those who you naturally would have no business loving. Loving differently yet equally. Loving from our faith in the glorious grace of God in Christ.
This is fun. But starts with us.
This is better, starts with God.