Lamentations was hard. It was hard for me. I believe it was hard for you, too. No one wants to hear what Lamentations has to say. But even a book like Lamentations is a part of the Bible and God has promised to speak to us through his word. We hard better pay attention.
But now that we have born heard that judgment for the past 6 weeks, I am so looking forward to Ephesians! Paul’s first words for the church in Ephesus is the word “Blessed”–blessed be the Father who has blessed us in his blessed Son Jesus. Blessed bbq the lavish and rich grace of Jesus! We have just come from the deep depths of despair in Lamentations. We had better get ready for the huge hope of Ephesians. This is not papering over the problem. It is a fresh vision of the Church that we rarely allow ourselves to enter into.
Why is this? Why is our vision of our world, of ourselves and of the Church so diminished? We come to faith knowing that God is great and powerful. We have such dreams of the church embodying the vision of God’s glory that is promised in Scripture. For most people who have left Christianity, what they struggle with is disappointment. They are heartbroken that the Church is not what it promised to be, that Christians did not live up to the promise of a people who look like Christ and have obtained an inheritance and hope in Christ. The unbelievers’ problem is that we claim redemption and live resignation. We claim to be a part of the family of God, but then live like every other broken family.
Paul is going to use his letter to the Ephesians to teach us how to live in Christ’s family. He will give us the theology and then work out some of the specifics of Christian family living. But the question is always, “Whose family are you in?” The family of God refuses to forget the people that the world can’t wait to forget. It hears all our sorrow, mourns it with us and then shares a meal. The transformation that we talk about does not take place instantaneously. But Christ is patient and persistent and change happens through a long training in Christ and his ways.
Maybe those unbelievers should be disappointed in us. It means that they recognize a gap between God’s promises and the reality of God’s people. It would be more tragic if they were not disappointed and simply did not expect much from the Church. The job that we have ahead of us is not to deny any criticism, but to learn to trust in Christ’s grace so much that we embody that huge claims of the Gospel before a watching world.