A wonderful inheritance

Some thoughts by Gordon Chambers on one of St Paul’s most exciting messages, based on one of the Bible readings for Nov.22: Ephesians 1: 18 “The riches of his glorious inheritance.”

To begin with:

I don’t know if you‘ve had an inheritance –let alone how much!

So let me share my story:

My parents were not wealthy, so any inheritance was not material. But Dad, coming from a farming family and, quick to spot an opportunity, found an amazing bungalow to rent in the centre of Worthing during WW2:-

Standing in an acre of garden, with stable for carriage & pair, greenhouse, tennis court, orchard, and large vegetable patch. The tennis court was sown as grazing for a cow! Pigs lived in a shack at bottom of the garden, hens in the orchard. We shared with neighbours, but still lived like lords!

After the war he bought a 40-acre mixed farm with livestock and 10 acres of cereals. It wasn’t big enough to make Dad rich! BUT his legacy to me was experience of horticulture & farming and a deep love of nature. 

a rich and wonderful inheritance…

Paul writes of a different inheritance:

During my childhood my parents were only occasional churchgoers, but they insisted that my sister and I went to Sunday school at a Methodist church nearby.

Though I hated it at first, as a teenager and attending by my own choice, I was led to what Paul calls “a glorious inheritance”……

A personal faith,

.. That Jesus is not just a story book character, but a living Person. 

.. Plus the rich inheritance of Methodism, which has been a dynamic power in the world 

And nurture by wonderful people in whose lives I saw what a Christian really is.

So let’s home in on this phrase “glorious inheritance” and the thoughts it provokes for us to reflect on during the coming week

Firstly, an inheritance comes about through someone’s death;

in this case, the powerful fact that Jesus’s gift to us was only achieved by his willing death.

The life of Jesus was wonderful and it leaves a priceless legacy of his ….words of wisdom, truth , challenge and love.

His daring and loving actions, often at huge cost to himself.

But it is his death which sealed with authenticity every word he spoke, every action

A death we still cannot fully understand, but into which we are given some insight by what he said:

unless a seed falls to the ground and dies…

I if I be lifted up will draw……

Forgive them father…..

Today you will be with me in Paradise”

All believable and powerful because it was underwritten by that willing giving of His life.

Secondly, an inheritance is not earned

Catch the wonder in Paul’s heart as he writes:

perhaps for a good person one will dare to die, but…(Rom 5.7).

This is our glorious inheritance that Jesus died for the ungodly and the undeserving.

If we today try to be good, compassionate, and loving, it is not to earn God’s favour, but to express our love and gratitude.

Wesley proclaimed that we should look for a perfect love for God and man, not as a key into the kingdom, But as a mark of those filled with the transforming Spirit of Jesus

Finally, the best inheritance is seldom material

In OT, especially in Job, material plenty was seen as a mark of God’s approval

Whereas, for the New Testament

It’s not what we accumulate, but what we give away that counts.

Most of us will have some “things” to leave for our loved ones.

What “glorious legacy” of beliefs, values and insights will we leave?

A prayer from a very old hymn by Wesley:

Hence may all our actions flow, love the proof that Christ we know; mutual love the token be, Lord, that we belong to thee.

Love, thine image, love impart! Stamp it on our face and heart!

Only love to us be given! Lord we ask no other heaven.