Archive for August, 2011

Ephesians 1:15–23
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.1

In the opening to Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul writes this prayer asking God to reveal the purpose of the church.

As Eugene Peterson puts it in the Message:

The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.2

One thing I immediately pull from this is that the church is not destined to be a failed institution. Yet we live in a world of failed institutions. This is certainly not news, but the latest incarnations of failure cover the news. Day after day stories of financial woes, unmet expectations, unfulfilled promises, hunger, and war.

So I ask you: do we know the hope to which we have been called? Do we know the immeasurable greatness of his power? The same power that was at work to raise Christ from the dead?

In John 18:36–37 we see this power at work as Jesus is asked by Pilate "What have you done?"

Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world." Then Pilate said to him, "So you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world–to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice."

Do we know the immeasurable greatness of this power of peace and truth? How often do we ask, like Pilate in the next verse, "What is truth?" How often does the church fight to "save" Jesus?

Back again to Ephesians 1. Isn’t Paul’s energy here infectious? Friends let us pray for the spirit of wisdom. Let us be guided by the hope that we have and confront the failing world with truth and peace; with the power that raises the dead!

Paul overstuffs this prayer much like we as the church are overstuffed with the fullness of Christ. We are the boat filled with fish, the wine glass overflowing, the extra baskets of bread. What do we do with this fullness?

If we skip ahead to chapter four we see these words:

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call–one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 3

This walk, this unity, this body is something we work at. Paul prays that we gain the knowledge of the fullness that we have been given before telling us to "walk in a manner worthy of the calling". The ordering isn’t what we might expect: do the walk, then you achieve the fullness of Christ. No, we have the fullness, we don’t really grasp that we do, and now we work to make a body that is cohesive and recognizable as a body. As verses 15 and 16 say:

…we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

So we are faced with this opportunity. Surrounded by economic vacuums, leadership vacuums, peace vacuums, and ecological vacuums, we–the church–hold together. We look to strengthen our joints and be peace and truth to the world just like Jesus.

  1. Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

  2. Ephesians 1:23.

  3. Ephesians 4:1–6

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