It could be seen as ironic that this scripture, one toward the beginning of a book of the Bible is placed on the Church’s liturgical calendar on the last Sunday of the year, Christ the King Sunday. Yet, it affirms that, to truly begin to talk about what we do as a Church, we must address first whose we are and who we are because of that truth. Christ the King Sunday comes on the same week that we in the American context celebrate Thanksgiving. This scripture points out that it is precisely the reign of Christ that erupts in the thanksgiving of the Body of Christ! Because Christ reigns and because we are God’s people, there is unceasing thanksgiving, not just for November, but all year round.
Paul never ceases thanking God for the Ephesians because he can see the work that Christ has done in them. What is worthy of thanksgiving? It is “faith in Christ and love for the saints.” For what God has already done amongst the people of the Lord, it is worth giving thanks to God! Yet, along with unceasing thanksgiving, the Church is drawn with the apostle toward constant prayer. The apostle prays for the Triune God to fill the Church with “a spirit of wisdom and revelation as [we] come to know him.” It is the work of God that constitutes the very being of the Church – who we are is defined by God. The revelation of God’s self to us in Christ, through the Spirit drives us daily closer to God in relationship. The Church is in a constant posture of prayer that they may come to know Christ.
Knowing Christ liberates and enlightens a heart and mind disconnected from the hope of Christ’s Kingdom. Without the Father’s revelation in Jesus and the Spirit’s testimony, we would remain hopeless. Yet, with the “enlightenment” of the eyes of our hearts and the knowledge that comes through God’s work among us, we are directed toward a “glorious inheritance among the saints.” Without God’s revelation, there is no Church, but because of Christ, we are grafted into a community directed toward eternal hope and a coming Kingdom. As the Church become heirs of God’s promises to God’s people throughout time and space.
Furthermore, we are empowered by God with God’s immeasurable power! Especially on the other side of a contentious political season, it is necessary to note that Paul does not connote power like that of the world – power to be lorded over the other, power to overcome in competition, or power to achieve our will over another or for ourselves. Rather, this power that we receive in the Church is “in accordance with the working of God’s great power.” How is this power put into work? In Christ! It is Christ that reveals the fullness of God’s power at work in us. God is also unlike the politicians of our age who reveal great plans and promises and yet do not follow through. God put that power to work for creation! The Lord put power to work in Christ in the resurrection, an act subsequent to Christ’s humility and obedience to death, even death on a cross (see Phil. 2:5-11). God has seated Christ at his right hand, above every power and authority – this for us and for our salvation! The long-awaited redemption of creation is found in the reign of Christ and his resurrection. Promises made; promises kept!
Therefore, belonging to the Church means that we are underneath the Kingship of Christ. Christ reigns over us! To submit to any other authority other than Christ is to be something other than the Church, filled with the fullness of the King. As a result of faith and hope, our submission to Christ’s authority, power, and dominion above all else becomes evident in the kind of life that we live. The Body of Christ is the “fullness of him who fills all in all,” meaning that the Triune God has filled us fully with God’s self, so fully in fact that we, as the Church, reflect God’s fullness to the world.
When the Church submits to Christ, it is expressed in a holy love that can be seen and heard. As we end the passage, therefore, it calls us back to the beginning. Paul affirms in his opening – “I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints.” God’s love is evident in the lives of God’s people and the word gets out! Christ’s reign is no secret, nor is the holy life of God’s people. This good news lived out erupts in thanksgiving for what God has already done – Paul does not cease to give thanks, and neither should we. Yet, there is continuous prayer for God’s work among the people. Paul prays that the God of the Lord Jesus may give the Church a spirit of wisdom and revelation. Christ’s reign means that the Church pursues a life that reflects our King. No other life is sufficient. No other way is life.
Because Christ is King, we are the Body, and we live in submission and dedication to the all-powerful, almighty God who overcame death and sin for us. It is the life of Christ that defines how we see ourselves, the world, and what life looks like. On this Christ the King Sunday, may we celebrate that Christ reigns! May we thank God for all that God has done in and through the Church by revealing hope, establishing faith, and working holy love through people who have come to know Christ and his power. And may we continue to fall on our knees in a posture of prayer and submission that, above all else, Christ’s Kingdom would come and Christ’s will would be done on earth and in the Church as it is in heaven, now and forevermore. Amen.