Today's Reading: Ephesians 4:1-6
Therefore, my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. (Ephesians 4:1)
When I read this passage, I get the impression that St. Paul sounds like a child building up blocks into a tower. That is not so far off when you consider how he labors to edify and build the church. But it is essential that our freedom be built on a firm foundation, or else a minor vibration will knock down the tower and it will fall apart. Just as though an adult walking by might knock down the child's tower, the true church has to be built on genuine freedom, otherwise it, too, collapses.
We can derive much insight if we pay attention, therefore, to St. Paul's advice to the Christians of Ephesus to “stand firm." Does he say, “Stand firm in your personal identity” or, “Stand firm in your efforts to be good?” No. He says stand firm thus in the Lord .
The only place we find the freedom to stand is in the Lord. He is able to make wretched sinners stand, because, as man and God, He has borne our sin and wretchedness. It is to Him that we may come as confessed sinners and yet be holy saints at peace with God. We can stand in that freedom because Christ causes us to stand. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
Now St. Paul, to be sure, loves and dearly longs for these saints at Ephesus, but he still says stand firm thus in the Lord . Human flesh and its desire will not cause us to stand. He puts the whole freedom of the church as dependent upon the Lord. For this reason, let us look for our freedom in the gifts by which the Lord Himself given to us and trust that we are fully free and redeemed in them. We need not fear that a sudden wind or vibration will cause them to tumble.
Built on the Rock the Church shall stand Even when steeples are falling. Crumbled have spires in ev’ry land; Bells still are chiming and calling. Calling the young and old to rest, But above all the souls distressed, Longing for rest everlasting. (LSB 645:1)
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