“Thus declares the LORD of hosts: Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.” After their exile to Babylon, God invited his people to renew their commitment to Him. The Lord was angry with their forefathers whose sins caused the exile. Now their time of exile was coming to an end and God did not want to extend His anger toward this new generation. If they would but return to Him, then he would return to them in favor and blessing. This promise to God’s people, Israel in the Old Testament, is the same promise He makes to His people, the Church, in the New Testament in the book of Revelation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). God describes His love for His people when they have sinned and turned away from Him as unrequited love. Even though you may “break up” with God, He is still in love with you and does not want the relationship to end. If you want Him back, you must make the first move. You are assured, however, that if you return to Him, if you open the door, then He is always ready to “make up” with you.
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.” Christians are purveyors of truth and the Apostle Paul implicates a right way and wrong way to tell it. We can use the truth to point out the shortcomings of others. We can use the truth to accuse those who don’t believe like we do. We can use the truth to shame those who don’t conduct themselves according to the same standards of behavior as we do. We can even use the truth to justify our own mistakes, unbelief, and misbehavior. Paul says we should take great care in how we tell the truth by telling it only with love. God has made you a steward of His Truth. His Truth is a precious commodity and when you decide to speak it, you must take concern in how you proclaim it. Truth is not to be spoken in haste, in anger, or with hatred, but only in love. Paul says when you learn to speak the truth in love, then you are showing signs of Christian maturity.
The way we usually begin the story of God’s redemption of humanity is that that God created a perfect world—a beautiful, wonderful place where communion with God was as easy as an afternoon walk through a garden.
Then Adam and Eve, who were God’s own created beings, disobeyed Him resulting in a catastrophic rift between God and His own creation. Seemingly, God’s perfect world was defiled and so He developed a plan to fix it.
When we begin the story in this way, it suggests that God made a big mistake when He created a universe that resulted in human beings falling out of fellowship with Him.
In Paul’s greeting to the Ephesians he begins the redemption story from its actual beginning. Paul makes it clear that God planned for the redemption of humanity even before the creation of the world! God wondrously and purposefully created this world and its redemption has always been God’s plan before the beginning of time.
So God is not trying to fix any supreme faux pas He made during creation. Instead, God is expressing supreme love through His creation.
And supreme love is best demonstrated through redemption: “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that He may have mercy on all.” (Romans 11:32).
God’s love and the redemption of His creation and human beings has always been God’s plan–let’s tell the story that way.