Summary: Ninth in a series from Ephesians. The church should matter to us because it matters to God.
This week I came across an interesting quote that was recently posted on an internet blog by a lady who identified herself as “Eva”. Here it is, exactly as she wrote it:
You are so right about the church today. We are a catholic family, but I can’t even remember the last time we went to church. My feeling is if you believe in Jesus, read the bible, try to display grace to others .I don’t think the churches are teaching the right message. It’s not easy in the way the world is today. My belief is that satan is loose and has control of what’s going on.
It seems that Eva has come to the conclusion that the church is no longer relevant, that it really doesn’t matter. And Eva is certainly not alone in her thinking. A couple of surveys conducted by the Barna Group about this time last year reveal some alarming trends:
• One-third of American adults had not attended a regular church service in the past 6 months
• 62% of the unchurched consider themselves to be Christians and ¾ of those people claim they are at least moderately committed to the Christian faith.
• Fewer than one out of every five adults firmly believes that a congregational church is a critical element in their spiritual growth and just as few strongly contend that participation in some type of community of faith is required for them to achieve their full potential.
• Only 17% of adults said that “a person’s faith is meant to be developed mainly by involvement in a local church.”
To much of the world today, it seems like the church doesn’t really matter. In fact, I’m amazed at all the excuses that people come up with in order to justify not being part of the church.
This week I came across this tongue firmly implanted in cheek article titled “Pastor Quits Sports”. Here is why this pastor quit going to sporting events:
1. Every time I went they asked me for money.
2. The people with whom I had to sit didn’t seem very friendly.
3. The seats were too hard and not at all comfortable.
4. I went to many games but the coach never came to call on me.
5. The referee made a decision with which I could not agree.
6. Some games went into overtime and I was getting home late.
7. I suspected I was sitting with some hypocrites – they came to see their friends and what others were wearing rather than to watch the game.
8. The band played some numbers that I never heard before.
9. It seems the games were scheduled when I wanted to do other things.
10. I was taken to too many games by my parents when I was growing up.
11. I recently read a book on sports and I now feel that I know more than the coaches do anyhow.
12. I don’t want to take my children to any games because I want them to decide for themselves what sport they like best.
But as we come to the end of Ephesians Chapter 1 this morning, Paul makes it clear that the church really does matter. It matters because it matters to God.
I hope that God has touched your heart like he’s touched mine as we’ve journeyed through the first chapter of Ephesians. I’ve been blown away by the whole idea of all these spiritual blessings that God has made available to me through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m amazed at the fact that it gives God pleasure to have chosen me and predestined me to become part of His family. I’m in awe of the fact that Jesus would give His life to redeem me from my sins. I’m astonished that the Holy Spirit is my personal guarantee that God will give me all that He has promised. And I’m completely taken aback to have God’s resurrection power at work in my life.
And as we come to the end of the chapter, Paul kind of wraps this all up in verses 22 and 23. Let’s read those verses out loud together:
And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Ephesians 1:22, 23 (NIV)
I’ve had a couple of weeks now to wrestle with this passage and I’ve really struggled to decide exactly what I wanted to present to you here this morning. Frankly, there is so much here that we could spend several weeks mining the riches of these verses.
I could have focused on the supremacy of Christ. That idea is certainly present here. In fact, that concept really began in verse 21 when Paul described how Jesus was raised to the right hand of the Father, “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age, but also in the one to come.” Unfortunately, a couple of weeks ago when we discussed God’s resurrection power, we didn’t have a chance to focus on that part of our passage in much detail. And combined with verse 22, we can certainly see both the superiority of Jesus over every other power known to mankind as well as the fact that all those powers have been subjected to His authority.