23 November 2017

Hi, it’s Mick and welcome to Thursdays Podcast. A quick recap on the week so far as we have reflected upon Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 2 & 3 and its relevance for our everyday lives.

REFLECTION

On Monday we considered Paul’s message that followers of Jesus do live transformed lives. On Tuesday that Jesus is our peace – he brings a new confidence as we trust in him. Yesterday, Wednesday the challenge and privilege to be used by God to bless others. Today, our reflection is focused on the church and the amazing power of unity in Jesus. Our reading is Ephesians 3:8-13 – you can hear the whole passage after the worship song.

Our focus verses today are v9-10:
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 (Ephesians 3:6). We stand united in Jesus Christ. We receive as individuals and as a body together the promised Holy Spirit. Wow!

God has brought everybody together in his church and this Holy Spirit inspired unity is so powerful. The Bible says that any disunity of Christians, churches, denominations etc is harmful to the spread of the gospel. So why is there disunity?

Paul is clear in this letter that our 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 – it always seems there is a battle and conflict in this realm! – but also in economic and social organisations of our world … battle, disunity, conflict. Here 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.

How is that plan actioned? Paul reminds us again in 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! I love this church at STC and it is indeed a great privilege for Tricia and I to lead these amazing people. One of the Godly characteristics of STC – and it has many – is its sense of unity. There are no factions or major disagreements in this church – honestly! That is not to say we all agree on everything all the time, however even though STC is a very large church there is a clear and distinct sense of unity. We are united in the call to be a welcoming, loving and supportive community with a heart to share the life of Jesus with others. Tricia and I have often said that even if we weren’t the leaders, we would still want to be part of STC – it really is something special!

We are a church that seeks to Meet Friends, Meet God and to Live Life Better. If you are listening to this and are part of the STC family, in this Vision Week let me say on behalf of the whole staff team: thank you so much for all you do and all you are – as Paul says, through you the plan of God is being made known. Thank you! We love this church!

PRAYER

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 (THE MESSAGE)

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. So don’t let my present trouble on your behalf get you down. Be proud! …