Ephesians ends by urging us to build relationships with other Christians, even when we might just want to curl up and pretend they aren’t there. And it ends with a remarkable statement of the queer and gracious goodness of God.
Build relationships with other Christians
21 So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus will tell you everything. He is a dear brother and a faithful minister in the Lord. 22I am sending him to you for this very purpose, to let you know how we are, and to encourage your hearts.
Throughout this project, Ephesians has stunned me with its reflections on unity, both the remarkable challenge it presents to us, and the wonderful gift it is from God. And so it is not surprising that Paul ends the letter with a very basic statement of unity.
Christians are called to be interested in each other’s activity and wellbeing. Paul sends the messenger Tychicus “So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing” (v.21). This is not just a nice thing to do, but rather is a sealing of their unity as Christians with a concrete practical relationship. And I think there is an element of accountability there, too. We are better in faith when we talk about our faith and share the journey with each other: and this can be healthy or unhealthy. The best accountability is a friendly sharing of the path, not a domineering and paranoid oversight. When we are in touch regularly with other Christians, we are encouraged and built up in faith, and they are too. Relationships are to “encourage your hearts” (v.22).
Paul calls Tychicus “a dear brother and faithful minister in the Lord” (v.22). For us, all Christians are “dear brothers” and all faithful ministers must be welcomed and repected, even if they are difficult. This is a profoundly difficult thing for many of us, especially if we have had hard experiences of Church, and especially when our “brothers” in Christ have not treated us as family. But the change to a more faithful and unified Church begins with us. Though we may want to shut ourselves off from the rest of the Church, or even to discount them entirely and claim that only we have the truth, Ephesians calls us to something better, more graceful, and more Christlike. Even though it’s hard.
Ephesians’ Queer Parting Shot
23 Peace be to the whole community, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24Grace be with all who have an undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ.
And this difficult call to unity is utterly worth it. Because the goal is “peace… to the whole community” (v.23), an end to the violence which is so often done in Christ’s name to so many who would follow him. And the goal is “love” (v.23), not just any love but the love that stems from “faith” (v.23), growing and springing up from the love between “God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (v.23) in their Holy and Undivided Unity.
And this final sentence of Ephesians is quite remarkable. “Grace be with all who have an undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ” (v.24). Ephesians calls us to know that God’s grace is with ALL who love Jesus, not just a few whom the Church deem worthy, or even with the few who have thrown off the shackles of the heteropatriarchy. God’s grace is with ALL who have undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ.
And, frankly, there isn’t a more universal, more gracious, more evangelical and queer closing statement, than that.