Read: Ephesians 1:11-14
In him you also . . . were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit. (v. 13 NRSV)
The words flew like a dart to the heart. “You are marked as God’s own forever.” So said my wife, an ordained RCA minister, as she read the liturgy when each of our daughters was baptized. In baptism we are marked as God’s own forever. As the Heidelberg Catechism puts it, our comfort in life and death is that we belong to Christ, and nothing can ever change that strength-imparting fact.
Many people today are marked. Some people have tattoos or body piercings. Others are stigmatized by skin color or ethnic group. Still others are marked by how they dress or what they drive. In the time of the apostle Paul, people were marked as Jewish or Gentile, slave or free, rich or poor. These markings often divided people into hostile groups.
Paul states that in Christ we are marked with the seal of the Spirit. Hence the lines that divide Jews and Gentiles are unimportant. The only marking to be taken seriously is the mark of the Holy Spirit, one that unites instead of divides. And the Spirit is a down payment guaranteeing our future, “the pledge of our inheritance” (v. 14 NRSV). The Spirit is a guarantee of what is yet to come in even greater fullness—the redemption of God’s people (v. 14). —Steven Bouma-Prediger
As you pray, ask God to mark you as his own, and ask him to help you see through the marks according to which we divide ourselves into competing groups.
About the Author
Steve Bouma-Prediger is the Leonard and Marjorie Mass Professor of Reformed Theology at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. A graduate of Hope College, his Ph.D. is in religious studies from The University of Chicago. His most recent book is Earthkeeping and Character: Exploring a Christian Ecological Virtue Ethic.
When not teaching or writing, he spends as much time as possible canoeing or backpacking in his favorite places in North America or simply hiking among the magnificent trees in southwest Michigan parks.