I'm reading this passage and can see how a Calvinist reading it would find support for predestination; i.e., verse 4, God chose us even before the world was founded, and verse 5, God destined us to be Christians.
So, I'm suggesting that you read the Wesleyan view of grace. Here's an introduction to Our Wesleyan Theological Heritage.
In the early church, believers with one kind of background thought themselves superior to those they considered to have a lower background. For those of us moderns who also think of ourselves as superior--or for those of us who have been convinced that we are inferior, we need to remember that both the first to become Christians and the ones who came later are all marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit and are God's own people (11-13).
And we need to remember to praise God's glory (14).
After I wrote this, I came across Donald Hayne's excellent discussion of the Calvinist resurgence on the United Methodist Portal page.
May 26, 2013 – Trinity Sunday/First Sunday after Pentecost God of Love and grace, you created us at our birth, but you continue to create us in our living. Even in death, the journey will not be complete. As we share our gifts this morning, we strive to grow into sacrificial giving. It is when we are challenged that we are shaped, re-formed by you, into the disciples you long for us to be. May the gifts we give and the lives we live display to the world an endurance that produces character and character that produces hope. For we pray boldly, knowing hope that comes from the Holy Spirit never disappoints! In Christ, we pray. Amen. (Romans 5:1-5)
Written by Ken Sloane, Director of Stewardship for GBOD.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Including the formerly not included, a Reflection on Ephesians 1:3-14
Another reposting from a previous year: