As we learned in the background of Ephesians, the church at Ephesus was facing financial loss and persecution. The more faithful they were to the Gospel the more their economy dried up. The more faithful they were to Christ the more their neighbors hated and persecuted them. The more they followed Jesus the harder things got. The closer they walked with the Lord the more their blessings disappeared.
This brings us to a major paradox of the Christian faith. Why do bad things happen to good people? Is the universe broken? The answer that Paul points to in Ephesians is that there is nothing wrong with God; our theology is wrong. We are hardwired to believe in a karma view of the world, and Christianity has become inundated with this heresy. We believe that if you do good you will receive good; if you do bad you will receive bad. This is the “Prosperity Gospel” that is so popular in our day. Herein lies our wrong belief. God is not beholden by our works. Salvation and all of the blessings of God are not based upon our actions. He sends rain on the just and the unjust. We must break our hearts and minds free from this works based view of the world.
Are they really blessings?
Another huge error in our theology is we have defined certain things as blessings. We view wealth, fame, power, health, houses, cars, popularity, and success as the highest and best blessings that God bestows. However, are these things really blessings? Paul points us away from earthly things when he tells us how God has blessed us; instead, he points us to spiritual things. Many people have wealth, fame, and power, yet they are miserable. Jesus teaches us the source of true joy, fellowship with the Father. Jesus was broke, homeless, rejected, and cursed by men. Why is it that His followers view His life as miserable for themselves? What Paul does here is show us that there are greater blessings than wealth. There are greater blessings than popularity.
The blessings are worth it
Paul is writing to people who are losing their businesses and their wealth. He points them to the blessings we have in Jesus to show that Jesus is worth the loss of our wealth. What we gain in Christ is worth the loss of all things. As Moses learned, the reproaches of following Christ are worth more than any amount of wealth (Hebrews 11:26.) Paul is going to show us how greatly we have been blessed by Christ, but we will miss these blessings unless we repent of our desire for earthly things. Jesus is worth more than everything this world has to offer. We must change our minds concerning what we truly believe to be blessings and strive to leave behind earthly things in order to know Christ (Philippians 3:7-8.)
We must praise God
When we truly realize all we gain in Christ we will praise the Father for His blessings. When our treasure is in heaven our perspective of this life will truly change. Earthly loss does not sting when we are laying up treasure in heaven. We must praise God for all that He has done for us in His Son, Jesus Christ.
Following Jesus is worth whatever it may cost you. Will you count the cost to follow Christ? Will you bless the Father for His spiritual blessings?