Summary: It's all about love - loving God and loving others. Everything else is misdirection. This message explores this theme, based on Paul's admonition to the church at Ephesus.
Message - November 5, 2017 - Ephesians 1:15-23
Last Sunday 11 of us from this congregation got together after the service to go for a prayer walk. We spent some time together to get oriented to what we were about to do.
We talked about some basic principles of praying for the community and about our own safety as we prayed. Then we went out for about an hour and prayed as we walked throughout the community.
I walked and prayed with Cala and Hazel, and even just in that short time, we connected.
We connected as we talked about the neighbourhood. We shared stories that we knew and people that we remembered from the past.
We stood at the places people had died and prayed for the community to not live in fear.
We prayed for those who are still mourning the loss of those who died. We and others prayed for God’s Spirit to move and transform the community by His power and for His glory.
Afterward we came back here and talked about the experience. One word people used a lot was ‘unity’.
Another said: “It is really good to know that other people have the same concerns that I have for the community”.
It was, truly, a great experience to walk in unity with brothers and sisters from this church, all with the same purpose, to bless the community and ask God’s shalom upon our neighbourhood, which has been hit with a lot of violence in the past months and years.
We closed by standing in a circle, holding hands and praying in gratitude for God’s continuing work in the community and inside of us. There was a warm feeling of community. There was a lovely sense of family.
A taste, perhaps, of something that each of us wants more. I thought then and there...this is something we need to do more. And so we will.
It is good to come to church. It is good to worship the Lord together. It is often rich and fulfilling and encouraging and empowering to do this.
And when we gather to worship, we do this together, directing all of our love and affection and worship to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And this is excellent.
And...And...there is more. There is more that is intended by God for us to be and to do together. We will always gather to worship and adore the living God. That part is do-able. But what about the other things that the church is to be.
What is God’s vision for the church - for every church, including Church at the Mission? It has to do with love. And so we come to our passage for today.
Paul Begins, and our passage today, to express His great joy and his regular practice of giving thanks for the Ephesians and remembering them in his prayers, because of two things: it’s because of their faith in the Lord Jesus, and their love for all God's people.
Today I want to focus on love. I want to focus on love because really, it’s all about love. Life is all about love. It’s all about relationships. Everything we need in life comes through relationships.
I didn’t say everything we want. We can easily get distracted by wanting stuff, wanting the latest iPhone, wanting the latest tech gear or whatever. That has nothing to do with love.
But everything that we need, actually need in life comes through relationships. Our relationship with God and our relationships with others.
The best things in life comes through relationships. And yet relationships can be some of the hardest things to deal with in life.
The struggle with relationships is that they involve other people. If I could have a relationship just with myself, that might be a bit easier.
But it’s when I need a relationship with you that I can run into trouble.
In fact there’s a growing trend, hot off the presses, called ‘sologamy’ (pic). People marrying themselves, because, well, I’m perfect for me.
But Jesus said this:
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. ...17 This is my command: Love each other. John 15: 9-12, 17
When we think of God’s commands, we might be inclined to think of the 10 Commandments. We might think of a list of things that we should do and a list of things that we shouldn’t do in order to please God.