Summary: What are we doing that is of eternal value
Pickwell-Kirby Bellars 22-11-08
I would like to look at our epistle reading (the first reading we had this morning)
It probably speaks to me a lot because I find it easier to criticise than give thanks for one another – for our Christian brothers and sisters.
However, Paul gives thanks for them for two reasons
1. for their faith in the Lord (do you see echoes of the first Great Commandment here to love the Lord you God with all your heart) and
2. for their love for the saints (yes that’s you and me!) - echoes of the second of the two Great Commandments– to love your neighbour as yourself
Yet so often we take the members of our Church for granted.
Story: Last Thursday Maddy and I visited an old friend who had lost her faith.
Her husband had deserted her for a younger woman, and then divorced her.
Her elderly parents were so infirm that they demanded all her free time.
She stopped going to church because she had to be what she wasn’t!!
People in her church only dealt with success - and she soon slipped away unnoticed.
I wonder if someone in Church had taken time to stand alongside her during that painful divorce that she might have kept going.
If someone at church had offered to give her a day off from her parents.
When we talked it seemed as if she was like the hamster on a treadmill – turning the wheel but going nowhere – FAST
In contrast, St Paul commends the Ephesian Church because of their caring attitude – their love for the saints – and not just some of them!
The Early Church used to have a position in church known as an “angel watcher” – people who would watch out for and greet and welcome new folk who showed up – for they might just be entertaining “angels unaware”
And I was challenged to ask myself:
How does my thermometer towards God read:
“Barely registering or sky high??”
How much time do we spend alone with God?
A few years ago, a survey was taken among US pastors asking how much time do you spend with God alone in a week.
The average reply was 15 minutes a week.
Why – because church WORK is so consuming and can push God out.
And I was writing this sermon in the middle of my holiday!!
Many marriages (and actually our marriages should mirror our relationship with God) break up because one of the two parties become too busy and the other feels neglected
Paul in our reading not only gives thanks for the Ephesian Church, but he also prays for them to have wisdom
“ I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ the Father of Glory may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation
AS YOU COME TO KNOW HIM
Paul doesn’t pray for them to do great works – to fill the pews - but to know God
Do you really know God – because it takes time
Paul goes on to say that the reason you should know God is
So that with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know the hope to which he has called you
That you may know the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints and the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe.
Wow, what a church!!
And yet within a few decades (probably two generations) we find St John in the book of Revelation writing this to the same Church:
St John reports what God tells him to do:
“To the angel (or leader) of the Church in Ephesus write:
These things says he who holds the seven stars in his hand-who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands
1. Your works
2. Your labours
3. Your patience
4. that you cannot tolerate those who are evil
5. that you have tested false apostles
6. that you have persevered for my Name’s sake and not become weary
Nevertheless I hold this against you that you have left you first love (Rev 2)
The Ephesian church has become the big Evangelical Church, things were buzzing
Yet St John writes that they have l;ost their first love for God. Tragic – they started out right but lost their way
We – like the Ephesians are people who measure success in DOING – and by that reckoning the Ephesian Church needed a good pat on the back – but God does not commend them
I have just been reading an interesting book by John Ortberg called : When the game is over, it all goes back in the box
John Ortberg likens many of our lives to a game of Monopoly where our sole aim is to accumulate “stuff”