Infants grow from immaturity to maturity. So do church communities. At least, they should. The apostle Paul points us to some marks of maturity when communities grow in Christ.
It’s almost spring, a season of life and growth. So maybe it’s timely that we ponder Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians’ spiritual growth. He prays that we would grow deeply (not superficially), grow communally (not individually), and grow expectantly (not cynically). By God’s grace, we can.
The apostle Paul is writing about his personal calling to non-Jews (Gentiles) like the Ephesians. And he describes his life and ministry as being wrapped around a “mystery.” What does he mean? We learn about the “mystery” of reconciliation, of grace, of the church, and suffering.
“Can we all get along?” The apostle Paul draws the Ephesian church’s attention to the problem of racial division—and the power of Jesus’ barrier-breaking blood. But it’s not just an Ephesian problem, or an ancient problem, or a societal problem, is it? As one author recently put it, “The great tragedy today is not so much that our society is still divided along racial, cultural, and class lines, but that God’s people, the church, are even more deeply divided.” We need reconciling grace for today, for the church, for Grace Meridian Hill.
First the bad news. We are by nature spiritually dead. (What does that mean?) But God interrupts nature—with super-nature, with divine grace. The good news of grace? Life. Not more morality. Not more religion. Not even a “better” life. God makes us alive together with Christ. For those coming to terms with their deadness, that’s a pretty good deal.
Let’s say you know someone and cherish them so much you can’t get them out of your mind. When you pray for them, what would you ask God to give or do for them? Relief from pain? More money? A better job? Here’s what the apostle Paul relentlessly asks God to give the Ephesian Christians: knowledge, hope, and power. Here’s why.
What to you is really big? According to Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church, here’s what’s big: God, and the salvation he provides. How and what difference does it make?
Let’s take a look.
For all our restlessness and longing for more “blessings” in life, what if it’s true that we already have, in Jesus, everything we truly need and deeply want? This is how the apostle Paul opens his letter to the Ephesian church, inviting them—and us—to praise God for “every spiritual blessing” we have in Christ.
Mike Park leads us through what Psalm 1 can teach us about new years, new beginnings and taking joy in God’s commands.
The way a greeting happens tells you a lot about a relationship. Elizabeth’s greeting of Mary teaches us that the Christmas season is one of humility and faith. Do we have the ability to live well when we’ve been brought low? Do we have faith in God’s blessing? Elizabeth demonstrates trust in God’s word, but the trustworthiness of God’s word is verified and tied up in the person of Jesus.