Tuesday, June 19, 2012

It's All About Him!

I shutter to think about how many times I read the first fourteen verses of Ephesians 1 before I noticed how much and how often Paul says "in him" or "in Christ."  It's not an accident.  All that we are and hope to be in our relationship with God comes through Jesus.  That's both ways!  What God wants, in terms of a relationship with us, and what we seek in a relationship with him - happens in Jesus!  There is a very impressive and comprehensive list of what Jesus does for us in those short verses.  Ephesians is "all about Jesus" and the difference he makes in us.  This is the statement I had in my outline Sunday:  "The whole letter is about what we have in him, should do in him, think in him, change in him, strive for because of him, and how we should treat one another because of him."
I have been troubled and convicted for several years now as I have come to understand the total focus his church is to have on Him.  We have one job as a church, and that is to mature people in Christ (Eph.4:11-16).  When that happens, the "effects", which we tend to emphasis first, will begin to take place.  Expecting immature members to give, serve, witness, and commit huge chunks of time to ministries when they don't have a passion for Christ will always lead to disappointment.  The traditional practice of defining "faithfulness" by attendance and involvement, doesn't cut it any more.  Guilt and threats don't work.  God wants his people to be together to encourage, equip, and edify each other as a tool to help us draw closer to Jesus.  Our preaching and teaching must be Christ-centered.  Our fellowship and service together must focus on being Christ-like and not just building cohesion.  Our witnessing must come from thankful hearts that are overwhelmed by what we have "in him," and a desire to share that with anyone God gives us the opportunity to interact with.
I guess what concerns me the most is that my brief contribution to helping every member mature in Christ is so - so - well, brief.  A thirty minute lesson is a cup of water poured over a dry lawn.  Even adding a 45 minute Bible class doesn't take it out of the realm of "brief."  It takes relationships, small groups, spiritual friends, mentoring shepherds, and opportunities to grow in knowledge, prayer, service to others, and witnessing.  Maturing in Christ can't happen as a hobby, or even A SECTION of a busy life.  It's about "seeking" not limiting, scaling back, and reducing.
I have to remind myself daily that we are in the "opportunity" business as a church.  All the church can do is give members lots of opportunities to grow in many different ways.  The Bottom Line is that we each will give account of ourselves to God as individuals not as a church.  My relationship with God is up to me.  My devotion, service, and "living sacrifice" is up to me.  The church is a support system - a tool to help, not the judge, jury, and prison guard of those who refuse the help.  Our job - my job - is to "preach Christ and him crucified" and help everyone to remember that ALL spiritual blessings are "in him."

1 comment:

Deborah said...

Such a good thing to think about. Thanks for the reminder.