Hi, it’s Mick here; welcome to Thursday’s Podcast at STC. A quick review – Monday we considered Paul’s message that followers of Jesus do live transformed lives. On Tuesday, that as we live these transformed lives, Jesus is our peace – he brings a new confidence as we trust in him. Yesterday, Wednesday, the challenge and privilege as we step out with this new confidence to be used by God to bless others.
Today, our reflection focuses on the church and the amazing power of unity in Jesus. Today’s reading is Ephesians 3:8-13 but listen now to today’s focus verses 9-10:
My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along. Through followers of Jesus like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels! (The Message)
The New Testament is clear; it constantly reminds us that we are co-heirs with Jesus – we inherit what he inherits, the amazing promises of God. We are children of God the Father. We belong to the same body of Christ, (v6 yesterday). As we stand united in Jesus Christ we receive as individuals and as a body together the promised Holy Spirit. This God given, Holy Spirit inspired unity is so powerful. Wow!
God has brought everybody together in his church. Therefore, any disunity of Christians, churches, denominations etc is so harmful to the spread of the gospel. However, we can also see that unity is so powerful!
The battle is against ‘the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms’ (v.10). What does this mean? You see these ‘powers’ at work throughout society, be it politics; just reflect on these past weeks/months with our politicians at Westminster; it always seems there is a battle and conflict in this realm. Now, I fully understand that there are times when we have to be true to our principles particularly in politics, however, there never seems to be any sense of unity or consensus – it just seems impossible to find a common mind, a mutual agreement for the common good, and this just increases the rhetoric of division. We become more polarised with aggressive words and actions. It’s not good. But this battle is also in economic and social organisations of our world – even in sport! … aggression, battle, disunity, conflict.
It’s seems depressing doesn’t it! But there is the good news, there is a plan and it’s called the gospel! Every time a person is reconciled to God and to those around them, heaven rejoices and hell is in despair because the gospel of Jesus wins every time. That which was broken is restored and that which was divided is made one. The manifold wisdom of God is revealed to the world. Positions that are in deadlock suddenly find a breakthrough because God begins to move.
How is that plan actioned? Paul reminds us again – listen to v10:
Through followers of Jesus like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!
The church is the plan; you and me are plan A – there is no plan B! One of the God given gifts given to us here at STC Sheffield is an amazing sense of unity in our common vision. Our church family has this real and relevant purpose in Jesus – to live in community, to encounter him and to make him known in the world through our lives. It works because in a culture where church is often regarded as boring and irrelevant – STC is exciting, highly relevant and full of people who have found or are on the journey to finding a living faith in Christ!
The aim of our Grow Project this year is to enable us to go deeper in our relationship with Jesus as we seek to Meet Friends, Meet God and to Live Life Better. If you are listening to this and are part of the STC family, thank you for all you do and all you are – as Paul says, through you the plan of God is being made known, one smile, one small kindness at a time. Thank you! We love this church!
Lord Jesus, thank you for church, your body, your gift to your world. May we who are church play our small part each day in making you known to others as we live as family in the unity of your Spirit. Amen
READING: Ephesians 3:8-13 MSG
And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ. My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along. Through followers of Jesus like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels! All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus. When we trust in him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go.