When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. —Ephesians 1:13b-14
Adopted at age 3, Sarah came to live in West Michigan from one of the Russian provinces in Central Asia. Her mom tells stories of how challenging the transition has been for this petite child to integrate into their all-American family.
There were many days when Sarah’s mom pulled her onto her lap and pulled out the scrapbook that tells the story of her adoption. They would go through it together, page by page, over and over again. Often Sarah would stop the telling of the story at the page that holds her adoption certificate, which has the official seal of the Russian government certifying her adoption. The document is almost entirely in Russian. All except the names. There on the page, she learned to recognize her name and the names of her adoptive parents.
Even as a young child, Sarah recognized that this document was important. Almost always she’d ask, “Mama, what does it say?” And always, with a mother’s wisdom, Sarah’s mom would simply reply, “It says you are mine. You are mine.”
Just as Sarah is growing into her identity, the Ephesian believers were growing in theirs. Through Paul’s letter to Ephesus, God still gathers followers of Jesus into his lap and says, “You are mine. Jesus made it possible for me to adopt you. I bought you with his blood. And the moment you believed, I secured you. I sealed you with my Holy Spirit. You are mine.”
Paul’s life provided for the early church an example of what it looked like to live as a child of God. Paul was once recognized for his impressive credentials. He was a Jew, born into the tribe of Benjamin. He received training from Gamaliel, one of the best and most respected teachers of the law. His morality was flawless; his standing as a devout Jew was impeccable.
But after Paul met Jesus, none of that mattered anymore. The believers in Ephesus would remember Paul saying, “Everything that came before is of no significance. It’s trash compared to being an adopted child of God. I am his!”