“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.“
Ephesians 1:1-2 NIVUK
The first verse in the Apostle Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians contains much information. Paul starts by claiming his apostleship – the account of his conversion from a Christian hunter and persecutor to a Christian maker and lover on the Damascus road can be read in Acts 9 and 22. History records Paul’s credentials as an apostle. The verse continues with a description of who the epistle, the letter, is addressed to. It wasn’t to everyone – just “God’s holy people”. Credentials describing those who faithfully followed Jesus. And because of the God-credentials of both the writer and the reader, God’s blessings of grace and peace in the second verse can be uttered and received, real and true.
What are my letter-writing credentials in life? In writing a similar letter to someone, how would I describe myself? Something like, “Fred, the husband of Chloe” or “John, the accountant in London”? Or perhaps something with spiritual weight, such as, “Matt, a believer in Jesus”? But how we describe ourselves, who we are and what we claim, will impact the receiver of our letter. Often, our self-description can be at odds with our behaviour though. Hmmm…
Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church would have been read out in a public meeting. And what a letter it was. The grace and love of God dripping through every stroke of his pen. And this epistle is read and re-read today, fresh and real, because of the credentials of the writer, Paul. A servant of God; a life dedicated to His service.
In our pilgrimage through life, we need letters. Epistles of encouragement, correction, guidance. Biblical accounts and passages that we can always refer to because God is in them. Step by step we can hear God’s voice, providing for us all we need. There is a man near me who lost his son to multiple sclerosis 30 or so years ago, and just last week he had to have his dog put to sleep because of an incurable spinal condition. And he is devastated by grief. The death of his son is still raw many years later and now the loss of his wee dog, who was like another son to him, has opened up all the old wounds. A pilgrim without the comfort and presence of God facing into the realities of life alone, uncomforted. And he has rejected the One Person who is able to help him. He needs a Letter, God Himself, to bring peace to his soul.
What do I need today? What do you need today? Whatever it is, there is a Letter written by the Creator of the Universe. Jesus came as God’s Word bringing the solution to all our worldly dilemmas and assuring us a future with the Letter Writer Himself. John 1:1-5 reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” What a Letter Jesus is. His credentials are indisputable. Irrefutable. Eternal. And His letter is written just for you and me.