A Journey Towards Unity – Ephesians 4:16

Here it is! Can you feel it in the air? Can you sense something’s changed. Christ kept his word. He never left us. He broke into human history again. This time, as an infection of the soul. A divine breathe from heaven came down and breathed onto humanity. An outside force, different than anything from this world, brought it’s power and made itself known. Fire. Wind. Hearts a-flamed. Souls torn through by a mysterious blowing wind.

Mankind is promised to never be the same. Many will try to grab this power and wield it for themselves. Many will doubt this power and say it’s not real. Many will over exaggerate what this fire is doing. But mark my words, this presence of God, his Spirit, is here, and he has brought radical change, a new way to be human. This is something that you receive, not take. The Spirit is only received through hearts that are soft and surrendered to God’s ways, particularly, God’s way of love and truth. As Pentecost sets in today, we’ll turn our final gaze to Ephesians.

The Connected Body – Ephesians 4:16

16 Under his control all the different parts of the body fit together, and the whole body is held together by every joint with which it is provided. So when each separate part works as it should, the whole body grows and builds itself up through love.

As we come to the end of the this week’s journey, we close with a word picture that Paul uses to focus our minds and hearts on what he’s been sharing. He’s not ending the chapter here, but he is tying up loose ends that he began back in chapter 1:

“God put all things under Christ’s feet and gave him to the church as supreme Lord over all things. The church is Christ’s body, the completion of him who himself completes all things everywhere” (vv. 22-23).

We are the body, under the control of Christ, the captain, our older brother. The word body in Greek is sṓma, which means “an organized whole made up of parts and members.” We are all different and diverse, working together as different parts of a body would work together, being interconnected by other members submitted to the oneness of Christ. As each part plays its role, every joint and member adds its strength and weakness to the whole body, which allows it to grow and mature in the love and truth of Christ Jesus.

So if we are the body of Christ, one body, then we all belong to one another. This means we are not merely called Christians, but “family members” joined by and with Christ, with a mission to make his beauty and worth known above every earthly treasure or passion.

Jesus Christ has a body here on earth called the Church. She has legs to go to the places that Jesus would go. She has arms to do the work that Jesus would do. She has mouths to say the things that Jesus would say. She has backs to carry the burdens that Jesus would carry. She has new hearts to love the people Jesus would love. She has one aim in the world, to make Christ’s body real through displaying her oneness in love. Go into the world, in beautiful ways, showing how much Christ loves.

A Prayer For Us Today

Lord God, you are on a mission and it will not fail. You have displayed your glory through gathered men and women throughout the ages. Bless our gathering today and in days to come. You have called us to join you on this mission to reconcile men and women back to yourself, to call them to a family reunion, a family that was broken and dispersed after the fall of man. We thank you that you never stop pursuing us and that you promise to return to complete the reunion once and for all. Make us one today in Christ Jesus as we imperfectly worship together with only parts of the body, but not the whole. We long for the day we are fully one. Amen.

For Those Who Want To Go Deeper

When Jesus came to the earth, he did not establish a church or a program; he did not write a book or publish any of his sermons. Instead, he gathered people and said, “Follow Me.” God’s reconciliation plan is for us to follow him in relationship, and in the process of following him, we are to build other relationships. The kingdom of God grows and unites one heart at a time.

Are you ready to play your part? Will you commit to building relationships with those across the aisle from you, or with those from another theological camp? Can you commit to getting to know the neighbors who live behind the handful of doors on your actual street? God’s plan is and has always been about relationships. Go ahead, be the body and build relationships with other members waiting to be reunited to the new family. A good start would be to join us today, at some point in the day, at this worship gathering downtown at the convention center. Happy Pentecost!

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Coram Deo

Coram Deo is a Latin phrase that means to live ones life in the presence of God, literally ‘before the face of God’. This means that there is never a moment when life is hidden from God. If God is who he says he is according to scripture and the Christian tradition, then he is always present, in all places, at all times. Boy, this sure makes life a little more interesting if one believes this, indeed, if one lives their life in such a way that this is true.

When I pastored Kineo Church, I would send us all off with a liturgical blessing every Sunday at the end of each service with this ‘priestly blessing’ that God told Moses to tell the priests to bless the people of Israel with:

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26, NIV)

Those two phrases: “the Lord shine his face upon you… the Lord turn his face toward you…” have always pierced my heart. Think about it. The Lord of all creation, allows his glory (power, beauty) to shine on us, and then in acceptance of us, he turns towards us in love, not away from us in disgust. This is a hard truth for many people to believe.

It’s hard for me to believe many times, because if ‘coram deo’ is true, then God has been with me and has witnessed me do many terrible things, as well as seen many terrible things done to me, even behind my back, and it seems God is passive in these moments. Oh man, I wrestle with this, and I’m not sure I’ll ever have a ‘pat’ answer on why, and this post wasn’t meant to seek any answers to that right now.

The point I’m getting after is this. If ‘coram deo’ is true, and one lived their life to the rhythm of this truth, then this would create a very consistent life, a non-hypocritical life, an honest life. If one lived as if they believed this, then there would be no denials of their corruption or masking of their behavior; one would simply admit what is true because they would know that God is with them and knows what really is true.

I struggle living like this. I struggle being okay with the reality that God is always with me, and I am before His face, and life can still suck. I struggle with experiencing his presence in a way that is tangible, but I also have freedom to real and honest and not try to pretend to you or anyone else who I am, or who I’m not. There’s freedom in that. This is why Paul says that there is freedom where ever the spirit of God is, which means freedom is present for you… right now, if you’re willing to believe that God is before you right now… He is not disgusted with you, and he isn’t hiding his face from you. This is how we get to the place where we have “nothing to hide, nothing to fear, nothing to prove, nothing to lose, and nothing to manage.”

God doesn’t play hide and seek. We do. God is like the kid in the closet yelling, “I’m not in the closet!” with a big grin on his face, because he wants you to find him. God, in Christ Jesus, took what you deserved so you could get what he deserves. Do you believe that? Does your life live like that’s true? Do your thoughts think in such a way that proves that’s true? I’m on a journey to believe this daily, and today, it’s a struggle. Good thing my beliefs and struggles aren’t what’s true all the time.