God has built into each one of us a sense that we are put here on Earth for a purpose. Life is not meant to be spent meaninglessly, year after year just going through the motions with no sense of purpose.
Two of the greatest needs in life are finding a sense of belonging and a sense of purpose.
As we know from numerous news stories we know both of these are at risk here in the Western culture. We are raising a generation that is without sense of belonging or of true, meaningful purpose.Two of the greatest needs in life are finding a sense of belonging and a sense of purpose. Click To Tweet
Where does a sense of belonging come from?
The feeling of belonging comes from a sense of family (which is also at risk in the United States). And then in its fullest sense, belonging is enjoyed within true, authentic community. However, it is not just enough to belong to a family and a community – we must belong to a family and community of purpose.
That’s why today I want to talk about the local church as a family of families. This was God’s design for the Church – to be the community of purpose that we need!
Christ’s Plan – The Church
The first passage I want to look at is Eph 2:17-3:11. Go read it, I’ll wait for you….
My observations about the church in this passage:
- The Church is God’s household (v. 19)
- The Church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ as the cornerstone (v. 20)
- The Church is a holy temple and a dwelling of God (v. 21-22)
- Gentiles are fellow heirs and members of the body of Christ, and fellow partakers of the promise through Jesus Christ (ch. 3 v. 6)
- The wisdom of God is to be made known through the church to rulers and authorities (ch. 3 v. 10)
Here are some questions for you to think about:
What did Paul reveal to the Gentiles?
What is Christ’s plan for the Church? How is the Apostle Paul included in that plan?
How are we to fulfill Christ’s plan for the Church?This was God's design for the Church - to be the community of purpose that we need! Click To Tweet
I’ll say it so many times – it is so important to understand the context of the passage first, before you dig deep into meaning!! The context here is that Paul is writing to the church at Ephesus – to motivate them to live lives that were consistent with the mission of Christ.
And let’s think about the context of Paul’s whole ministry as well. In this passage, Paul states what God has called him to do. First, we know that he was given the task to preach the gospel to the Gentiles (remember his conversion on the road to Damascus in Acts 9?). Here, in Eph. 3:8-10, Paul states the other part of his job:
“To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.” (NASB)
It was his job to bring to light the “administration of the mystery.” What does that mean? Well, if we look at the original language this passage is in (Greek), the Greek word that is used is “oikonomia,” which is better translated “household order” or “household management” instead of administration.
What is the “mystery” in this passage? Go back to verse 6, and there it is – that Jews and Gentiles are fellow heirs together in one body, one church. So, Paul’s job was this – to reveal to everyone what the household order of the church is. It is Paul’s letters to the churches that make up much of our New Testament. In those letters to the churches (and in the book of Acts) we have the answer as to what the churches looked like in the first century, and if we are to understand Paul’s mission correctly, we also have the answer as to what our churches are to look like today (the blueprints, at least).
Jesus Loves the Church
The main question I want you to ask is – Do we love the church like Jesus does?
The church is = Christ’s followers working together as a body. We need the church – to fulfill and live out the “one anothers.” Here are just the passages from Ephesians that mention how we should treat one another:
- Ephesians 4:2 – with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,
- Ephesians 4:25 – Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.
- Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
- Ephesians 5:19 – speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;
- Ephesians 5:21 – and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
Jesus loves His church. He gave His life for it. He planned for it in eternity past. He provided for it through His death and resurrection. He gave it a mission (the Great commission) and He gave it His Holy Spirit.
Yes, we need to love the people, but we need to love the institution of the church – Jesus made it.Do we love the church like Jesus does? Click To Tweet
Next time I want to get into more of what the church is to look like – a Family of Families!!