Last Sunday, I was glad to be back in Redeemer after a couple of week away. The meeting for me was most of all a real reminder of the joy that our church brings me. It was not going to the building that filled me with joy, it was not the worship time or the message we heard – it was above everything seeing people again. It reminded me of how the Bible talks about the Church as being God’s inheritance or reward. I think sometimes, when we think about reward or inheritance, we think of money, or wealth or riches – God thinks about people, He thinks about His Church – I am beginning I hope to get His point!
I wanted to write briefly about what is coming up. For the next couple of months we are going to be journeying through the book of Ephesians, to call it a book is perhaps an overstatement. It is a letter written to the churches in and around Ephesus in Asia Minor, that’s now called Turkey to you and me. These are the Ephesians and it is Paul, the self-styled ‘apostle to the Gentiles’ (non-Jews) who is writing to them. It is a sweeping and concise declaration of the message that had been entrusted to him by Jesus: the Gospel – the amazing good news about Jesus Christ.
What is this message? This declaration. God is creating in Jesus Christ through his Spirit a new people, a new society, a community set apart in the midst of the rest of the world. In this community, the barriers of division, the “us and them”, that humans build up between each other; those of class, race, sex, wealth and power would be broken down. Instead of divison, God brings unity in diversity. He builds up new relationships, radically transformed by love, through the sacrificial death of Jesus. They have all received grace, the forgiveness of their sins and now they have peace with God, themselves and each other. They have been made free to live their lives for God and each other.
Contrary to the influence of individualism and the Western Church’s accommodation to it. The Gospel is not a message of personal liberation in a vacuum, it is centered in the creation of a distinct and holy people, into which those that believe in Jesus become integrated, loved and known by God and each other. It is the Church, as a whole, as a body, that makes known who God is, who in His own Being is a community. Three Persons in One Being existing in perfect love and unity. On our own, it is simply impossible to have the fullness of what God intended the Christian experience to be. He made us to be part of His new society, he made us to be part of His Church and part of a local church.
As the secular society around us continues to degenerate into ever increasing fragments in the search for its identity, in its fighting for rights and its denunciation of those that are different. We have the solid hope of a society where people’s identity is solid and sure, a people who can be confident yet humble, a people who love each other despite all the differences of culture, age, race, political opinions, etc. This is God’s design of the Church, are you in?