I’m preparing myself for Sunday. In some ways I am feeling a little apprehensive because I feel a weight of responsibility.
We are launching a two month series based on Ephesians 4 and there is a vision for the church that Paul is communicating, that I hope and pray I will find a way to help our church engage with… because it changes so much.
It’s interesting to search for “Ephesians 4” on this site and very quickly you discover just how much God has brought me back to this book, and this particular chapter since I started writing. Just some of the reflections are:
- Donald Trump spews cliches. The world is more complex than a cliche will ever capture.
- We know its about the calling but how do we actually do it?
- There is something healthy about coming out of the “normal” and having to re-look at the assumptions that form the basis of everyday life.
- Escaping the Matrix
- Talking ’bout a reformation
- We’ve got rid of the people who make us uncomfortable and now we wonder why we are not effective!
- Different so we can serve each other
This coming Sunday I will be launching the series by doing an overview of the profound vision that Paul paints in the first three chapters.
The central idea of the whole sermon series is that Paul’s vision of the church is radical in the proper sense of the word.
Radical has come to be synonymous with extreme, but that’s not what it means. Radical comes from the same word we get radish from, and it means root. Paul’s vision for the church is radical in that it gets to the very root of what the church is meant to be… and it asks some hard questions about what many of us consider the church to be.
At the heart of Paul’s vision is the understanding that what God is doing in the supernatural realm has very practical implications.
Ephesians is a book that paints a grand vision in the first half (Chapters 1-3) and then spells out what that means for how we are to live our lives in the second half (Chapters 4-6).
The whole book of Ephesians, and the whole of Pauls understanding of God’s agenda can be seen spelled out in Ephesians 1:10:
With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment —to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
(Ephesians 1:8-10 NIV)
Two things are clear here… That God want’s Jesus to be Lord of all, and that the implications of that are not just in the supernatural. The vision of the New Testament is heaven coming to earth and not Christians escaping earth to go to heaven. Heaven and Earth connected through Christ.
This is the remarkable thing about the gospel, God’s agenda is for Jesus not just to be Lord in heaven but on earth too. The supernatural has very practical implications.
I agree with Bono who sung “Heaven on earth, we need it now. I’m sick of all of this hanging around.” The song Peace on Earth is probably the most desperate of U2’s songs as Bono pleads “Jesus can you take the time
To throw a drowning man a line”.
Ephesians paints a vision that is a direct answer to Bono’s plea. Paul is painting a vision where Jesus is the line, for drowning men, and where the calling for the church is to be the place where Heaven is actually seen on earth.
The weight I feel as I prepare to speak on Sunday is that the incredible picture that Paul paints in Ephesians is so counter cultural and counter intuitive that my head aches as I try to understand the truth that my heart rises to.
As Paul writes Ephesians I think he too is conscious of the same dilemma facing his readers. He writes
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,
(Ephesians 1:18 NIV)
and later he writes:
I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:17-19 NIV)
There is a sense he knows that what he is writing is beyond rational comprehension, that it is the heart and not the head that can grasp the enormous truths he is attempting to convey. He is praying that they might know, that they might grasp the unknowable and the ungraspable.
In the very act of writing these prayers Paul is demonstrating that to glimpse the truths he is trying to communicate will require the enabling of God’s Holy Spirit.
I know as our church begins this journey on Sunday, it has the potential to be transformative, but God is going to have to do the work to communicate the unknowable and ungraspable through his Word and through Dan, Nathan and I over the coming 8 weeks.
I am praying that He will and I’m looking forward to the adventure, but that is why I am feeling the weight.
By the way if you ever want to hear any of my sermons, you will find them here