Did you notice the tension in her email? She wants to attend church and be with God’s people but because of past difficult relationships from her former church situation, her many fears and sense of rejection make it almost impossible to attend. She has been pulled back and forth for 15 years now. She, unfortunately, is not the only one like this. Many brothers and sisters have a love for God and His people but can’t seem to live along with God’s people.
God has called, gifted and placed them in the church, and yet they question their call, don’t use their gifts and displace themselves at much pain to themselves and others. She and many others have isolated their lives from God’s people and in the end from God Himself. The reality is that they are one but allow their lives to live as if this truth is not real. This is the work of deception and of the evil one.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We have a choice before us. We can either live out our lives in joy, humility, peace and love or begrudgingly, isolated and sad. Many of you are young. You can today make a change on how you are to live out your life. I can probably safely state, that if you have not yet been disappointed with the church of God, you probably will one day. The solution is not isolation whether by sitting in the back row, coming late and leaving early or even by not coming to church at all.
Paul in Ephesians 4:1 says that we are called into the body of Christ. It is illegitimate to think of ourselves as having spiritual communion with the Lord and yet not fitting into the church of Christ. That would be like getting married by yourself. Let me just state here, that no matter how hard it is, we need to bring the two together. There will be a force to draw us to God and to fellowship with His people. This is a natural drawing of the Spirit of God. It is our calling. The apostle continues on throughout the Book of Ephesians interweaving our relationship with God and with our relationship with His other sons and daughters.
“And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together is growing into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:17-22).
Some of you have already lost your vision or hope of having a good church relationship. Here, Paul is calling you back to what you were made for and called to. This is not only true in the local church context, but with all believers no matter what kind of relationship you might have had with them, whether they be your colleague, spouse or parent. God wants to restore hope to us who have lost hope. He wants to protect those who will go through times of testing. He wants to show us the way our relationships can be restored.
From the human perspective, this is impossible, but God has already declared this is what He is doing. Tell the Lord to ‘feed His sheep’ now. Whatever your need, you want Him to feed you. I only caution you don’t put unity out of your realm of possibility. For this is exactly what God wants to do.
An Outline Chart to Ephesians
We should at the outset re-familiarize ourselves with the outline of Ephesians. Ephesians 4:1, after all, is the common dividing point of the Book of Ephesians. Up to this point, in the first three chapters, Paul used every possible way to show us the grand purposes of God. As if on the pinnacle of a mountain, in the last few verses, he was looking over the whole scene before and around him. He could only see the great power of God displayed and the glory that it brought to God. But then, in that moment he said that all of this was to be shown in the church, the people of God.
Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20, 21).
Apprehending this power and glory is one thing. Many have set their sights on understanding this glory and many a theological paper has been written, but this is only half the journey. Paul says our journey must reach the heavenlies. It is quite insufficient to say that we know about God but have never experienced Him, or, that we have studied about God but have never seen His glory.
As I said, Paul has taken us to the shores of heaven but he cannot take us in. Church of God, you have heard what God has done for you in Christ. You have heard how the Almighty One has chosen to work in you, though feeble you be. It is now time for us to step into the heavenlies. Although our feet for a little while remain on earth, God wants us to join Him in His glorious living. This is not just inspirational talk. This is for real. But you ask, “How?”
This is Paul’s point in the next three chapters. In order to be holy as the Lord, we must step by step constrain our footsteps to follow God’s clear pathway. You might think it impossible; it is not. You might object to its strenuous demand on your life, I will not deny it. Only we can clearly state that God’s way is unimaginably better than anything we would experience living by the world’s ways. You see, we are God’s kingdom. We are a people set apart for Him. This is our chance to live for Christ. As much as we live for Christ, we will see the world fall to its knees before Christ and crumble in repentance. But if we refuse to go on with our journey after Christ, we will see the church rot in the sight of the world.
I for one, have seen the ugliness of the world and reject it. I have taken up the pathway God lies before us. He is waiting for all of us to join Him. He wants all of us to follow. He wants to reveal His great power through our feeble lives.
The pathway that is begun to lay out in front of us today brings us to putting down our competitiveness, jealousies, pride and take up a great love and affection for those whom Christ died. We will go nowhere with Him unless we openly face our past willingness to not love the brethren. I know we have many excuses, but none of them work. If we are to love God then we are to love those whom God loves. If we do not love those around us, then we do not love God. Will you take this first step closer to God? It will mean that you make changes in your marriage, friendships and church commitment. Some have done this and found a refreshing outpouring of God’s Spirit.