I just finished a sermon series on the book of Ephesians. It was entitled “E-mails to the E-phesians.” I’d like to share the heart of one of those messages with you here today.
In quick review, Ephesians is a book of the New Testament. It is actually a letter written by the apostle Paul to the Christians, mainly Gentiles, living in the town of Ephesus on the northern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Paul wrote this as he was in prison in Rome in about 60 A.D.
In this letter Paul writes with high theological and devotional thought. He doesn’t address specific local issues and questions as he does in other letters (e.g. Galatians and Corinthians), but directs his message to the sweeping doctrines of the Christian Faith, which apply to the whole of Christendom (as he also does in his letter to the Romans). Therefore, this letter was certainly sent to and read by most all of the first century churches.
Paul emphasizes one central thought throughout. The disunity and division of the world, which is a reality at every level of sinful human existence, can only be restored to unity by God’s plan in His Son Jesus Christ and His death on the cross and His resurrection for the forgiveness and salvation of all humankind. And the corollary is the key role of The Church to work toward that unity.
It is that key role of The Church which Paul addresses in Chapter 4. As we come into football season, I couldn’t help but call it “God’s Game Plan” for The Church to bring the unifying Good News of Jesus Christ to the world.
In Chapter 4 Paul calls The Church (which includes you and me) to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” What he means is “Be The Best!” He calls every Christian to live life in the best Christian way because the way we live our lives makes a difference and an impact upon bringing the world together in Christ.
If we forfeit this great calling to be God’s people and witnesses in the world, we hurt the chances of the world being unified in Christ. But if we seize the opportunity in every situation and circumstance to live Christ-like lives and show those around us the power of Christ, which makes life whole and blessed, then we have made a great contribution to bringing the world together in Christ. That is a message for every one of us, every day.
Paul goes on to answer the question, “And what does that kind of living look like?” His answer is simple, yet profound. He tells The Church to be humble and gentle, to be patient, to bear with one another in love, and to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. All this put together and lived out in daily life is key for The Church to remain strong as God’s chosen main component for bringing the world together in Christ. This is both quite a privilege and astounding responsibility for us, isn’t it?
As the rest of the chapter unfolds, Paul continues to lay out “God’s Game Plan.” He adds, “Utilize Your Strengths!” These strengths include specifically unity and grace. The unity of The Church is vital to success. Paul affirms that we have “one body and one Spirit…one hope…one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God.” Every championship team has a team unity that creates strength and keeps the team winning through good times and bad.
The other “Strength” Paul affirms is that greatest of all strengths, and that is God’s Grace, His love for us in Jesus which we neither deserve nor can we earn. God’s Grace is the strongest force in the universe. In his treatise to the Romans Paul declares, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” It is this great grace which we take to the world in order for the world to be brought together in Christ.
The last point in “God’s Game Plan” I share with you today is a key point in every game plan by every team in every sport, and applies perfectly to us as part of God’s plan to use us for His purpose. And that is, “Do Your Job!” Every collective effort of any sort has many “jobs” to be done by the specific individuals who have the specific talents to do that one important job.
Paul says that God gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (just to name a few), all with a specific task so that together The Church is equipped to do God’s Work in the world.
Our question for ourselves in our specific time and place in the world is, “What is my job?” When God reveals that, then we simply pray, “Dear Lord, help me do my job to the best of my ability and for Your Glory. Amen” Then we are sure that we are part of “God’s Game Plan.”
Find Kollmeyer at www.princeofpeacefayette.org Weekly worship 9:15 Contemporary and 11:15 Traditional