Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Church – as explained through Ephesians 2 (and some of 3!)

Wordle: Ephesians

Church isn't just about turning up to a building on a Sunday, singing some songs, saying a few prayers, listening to a talk and then going home, forgetting all about 'church' until the next week.
Church is about meeting with people. Yes, after the church service over coffee.  No coffee served? Go to a coffee shop together, invite folk home for a cup of tea...but church isn't JUST a social time. Being 'church', doing 'church''s spiritual, intentional.
Church is about getting to know people, more than just briefly after the service. Because you can't. So church means meeting others at other times than Sundays.  Church isn't JUST a catch-up on the news - and definitely NOT gossip. 'Church' goes deeper than what lies on the surface of our lives.
Church is about getting to know people well, more than as just brief acquaintances. It is about understanding others, appreciating their lives, listening. It is about intimacy, accountability. We have found the best way to do this is to talk about Jesus. What he said, what he did, how he lived, what his friends said about him.  So we study the Bible together. We find out what it means. We wonder how we can apply it to our lives. We talk with each other upon the way, as the two disciples did on the road to Emmaus. And many other dusty Palestinian roads as well.  Church is about spending time. Giving time. Helping one another. Encouraging.
Here’s a thought: do we pay lip service to this idea of church? Do we really ‘get’ what it is all about? Do we know who – and WHERE – we are?

Some thoughts from Louie Giglio in a talk entitled ‘I AM CHURCH’. He says that we are part of the reflection of Jesus to the world. If we really GET Ephesians 2:1, then we will know that we WERE DEAD because of SIN – HELPLESS to do anything about it because dead people simply can’t do anything – they’re dead!  But, because God loves us, he made us ALIVE (Ephesians 2:4-5): not better, not improved, but ALIVE. And so we came out of the grave to become NEW people (2 Corinthians 5:17) and we are now joined with him IN THE CHURCH (Ephesians 2:11), fellow citizens, members of God’s household (Ephesians 2:19).  This is the Gospel – making us part of the household of God – and is the HEART of the Church with Jesus as the HEAD. We just make up the rest of the body!

Consider the images of church: a body; a family; a household; a city; a country; a building

The Message says (Ephesians 2:19-20): That's plain enough, isn't it? You're no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You're no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He's using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation.
Now at home, in church, as church.

How do you feel about your church family?  Does it feel like family?

The fellowship of the saints...
And it strikes me that our unity - our oneness, our sense of community, our belonging as family - rests ON the heritage of Peter and James and John and Paul...held together by Jesus.
This is different from the world.

Again, do we know who – and WHERE – we are?
In worldly life, we find our place in a hierarchy of others. The leaders - the best, the cleverest, the richest, the most successful - are at the top. yet Jesus is not some remote Lord and Master, some distant boss whose business we aspire to work for or are employed by  but are unsure how long we will be employed. He is the CORNERSTONE: "... the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure."
Yet we are being built TOGETHER, joined together, working together to form the church with Jesus holding us TOGETHER.
An upside-down pyramid which cannot totter and fall because of JESUS!

Does this feeling cut across the denominations?  Are there barriers? How can barriers be crossed, or, better, removed? Thinking of Ephesians 2:1, how can we ‘get it’ (the Gospel) better.

Whitney (Good MorningGirls) talks about this: I'm quoting her here:
" “For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—
2 SURELY you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you,
3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly.”
Ephesians 3:1-3
If it seems like Paul has repeated himself a few times in your reading this week, it’s because he has.  Imprisonment couldn’t even waiver him! I love the almost interruption of his speech in these verses.  Was it because he felt the need to repeat himself again?  As if to say, “Wait, I want to make sure you get this… SURELY you have heard.  I’ve already said it, but this is good stuff.  Remember this!”
It would be easy for Paul to get caught up in the political incorrectness of his message.  What he has stated about the Jews and the Gentiles becoming one  in Christ caused HUGE ruffles and controversy.  I would have even understood if he was worried about his image, or if he had a little pity party for himself because the whole thing landed him in prison.  Yet he continues to keep his passion focused.  He knows the ONE whom he is talking about, and he can’t resist sharing the Good News with anyone who will listen.
I wonder how much more we could accomplish for the Gospel if we focused on just that: the Gospel.  I fear that we often channel our energies into so many different things that we lose sight of the real ministry that God has called us to from the very beginning.    We are bent on doing things:
Our own way.
Committed to all kinds of projects, organized ministries and lots of good things, but allowing division in the body and our own agendas to get in the way of why Jesus came in the first place.
Just think of how effective we could be for the Gospel if we were more passionate about the person – JESUS – than we were about the “project”. 
Do you need to answer His call to return to your first love?
He is waiting patiently.  Strip the unnecessary away.  There is JOY in His presence. "

Thank you, Whitney! Let us be passionate about Jesus and passionate for His Church.

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