I should probably let you know that I use the NLT (New Living Translation) for my personal study, so all references will be taken from there unless otherwise noted. (Don't have an NLT?? Use BibleGateway.com to look up the verse in different versions!)
So here's the verse for today:
"This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus. I am writing to God's holy people in Ephesus, who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus."
Introductions. Sometimes they can be rather predictable. For instance, if two college students meet for the first time, you can be guaranteed that the topics of schools, majors, and how much longer until graduation will be discussed in the first few minutes. In Deaf culture, I would introduce myself by giving my name, my sign name, where I went to school, and who my teachers were. Most of this information that is exchanged is to give us reference points and points of commonality on which we can (hopefully) build a future relationship on. So what does Paul's introduction tell us about him and the people that he was writing to?
One of the first things that pops out at me is that Paul was chosen. I love that word. Chosen. We all like to be picked for something special. It gives us a sense of belonging and uniqueness all at the same time. Paul seems to like this word too. When we read on through the first chapter Paul continues to use the word "chosen" to illustrate that God chose each of us before the creation of the world. How amazing is that!?!? We are chosen through Christ. We are not left overs. We are not picked because no one else wanted us. We are chosen and were chosen before the world was created! Just like God chose Paul, God chooses us, even knowing what we are like, to do his work, for his kingdom. I don't know about you, but that makes my heart smile.
The other part of this verse that really jumps out at me is how Paul refers to the people that he is writing to. He refers to them as "God's holy people...who are faithful followers of Christ Jesus." The church at Ephesus had an amazing reputation! As I'm reading this I can't help but think that Paul is introducing us to the church at Ephesus. He's saying, "Holly, this is that church I was telling you about. They faithfully follow Jesus through thick and thin. I mean, just look at how much they look like Jesus!" I want a reputation like that! I want when people introduce me to others or are referring to me in conversation to say, "Oh you know Holly, she's the one who loves Jesus. She faithfully follows him with everything she has. The resemblance between her and Jesus is just remarkable!" I want people to be able to look at me and say that I am a faithful follower of Jesus. That's how I want people to remember me. I want those words to be what defines me. More than knowing sign language, more than being friendly and sweet, I want what defines me to be my faithful following of Jesus.
Don't you love introductions??