Tennis player Althea Gibson was a trailblazing African-American athlete in the 1950s. Born on a South Carolina cotton farm and raised in Harlem, she battled poverty and segregation to achieve unprecedented success. She won 11 Grand Slam titles and was the first African-American to win the U.S. national championship and Wimbledon. To put this in perspective, Venus Williams in 2000 was only the second African-American woman to win Wimbledon. When Gibson died in 2003, Williams said, “I am grateful to Althea Gibson for having the strength and courage to break through the racial barriers in tennis. . . . I am honored to have followed in such great footsteps.”
Inheriting a rich legacy and following in great footsteps also describes us as believers in Jesus. We stand in and by His glorious grace, which Paul celebrated in today’s memorable opening to Ephesians. All the credit and glory for redemption go to God. He’s the agent of action in all these verses—He blessed, He chose, and He revealed His will. Best of all, He’s freely given us grace, to the point of lavishing it upon us (vv. 6–8).
God’s gracious plan gives us a new position. Forgiveness of sins and redemption in Christ mean we’ve been adopted as God’s children. As such, we are to be “holy and blameless.” We have this identity and purpose through no merit of our own, but by His loving and sovereign choice (vv. 4–5).
This tremendous “spiritual blessing” is at once past, present, and future. Christ’s death and resurrection are past, concrete historical events. Our salvation is a present reality within which we are to live, walk, and serve the Lord. And His ongoing work of redemption will be completed in the future. On that day, all things will be brought under the headship of Christ (v. 10; cf. Phil. 2:10–11). Our inheritance of grace is indeed one “that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1 Peter 1:3–5).