“I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.” (Ephesians 3:16-17, NRSV)
The Letter to the Ephesians includes encouragement for new believers who are just beginning to realize what it means to be transformed by the gospel message. The readers of this letter are reminded that because they now live in Christ they are no longer aliens or strangers from God. Because of their response to the gospel, these readers are experiencing a radical transformation of their personal and social identity. They are being re-socialized into God’s purposes and family. I urge you to read the entire letter.
This is a beautiful section of the Bible where we see how wonderful it is to have the Holy Spirit present with us; we see how inspired and motivated we can be when we recognize this spirit of love inside us. It is empowering to think that we receive spiritual strength as we grow and develop in our relationship with God. The prayers we read here give thanks to God for the unbelievable power and love God shows us in Jesus Christ. We see that God gives and gives and then gives some more to those who follow Christ. God’s Spirit strengthens us as this spiritual nurturing takes place and we are led to know God better and better.
It is important that you read the entire letter because Ephesians is not simply encouraging; it is intended to influence the thought and conduct of the reader. It was written to build up the church and to tell the readers how they should act. I don’t think we should be surprised by this message. After all, the gospel message is supposed to transform us; it is intended to change our behavior. OMG…There’s that frightening word – “change”!
We don’t much care for change; we resist it with all our strength. We like change even less when it isn’t our idea. Maybe that’s why following Christ is such a challenge for us – Christ calls us to change the way we think and the way we behave and we’re happy just the way we are. We must realize that the reason Jesus came was because the way things were was not acceptable to God and the people needed to change; Jesus came to reconcile the people back to God – to show them a new way to change their behavior. Jesus came to unite all peoples into God’s family for God’s purposes.
We are now beginning our 5th year together as pastor and congregation. As I review the work we have done together I see many wonderful things done in the Name of Jesus for this church and our community. I thank God for your faithfulness. I also see the potential for so many other things that would lead us into better relationships with God, with each other, and with our neighbors. In our committee meetings and small groups there is a lot of discussion about what our next steps should be and how we might better serve the community. I hear many good ideas and I see plans to nurture those ideas into ministry. What seems to be in shorter supply is the commitment to actually begin the work of clearing, planting, fertilizing, and harvesting these ideas. The list of people who have signed up to help with these new ministries is a fraction of the number of people needed to actually bring in the sheaves. The spirit seems willing, but the flesh appears weak when it comes right down to saying, “Yes, I will help with this project or that ministry; yes, I will teach Sunday school; yes, I will go on a mission trip; yes, I will volunteer my time in the kitchen; yes, I will be an active
participant in my church.”
I need your help; your church needs your help. Each one of us has something to contribute. Every contribution of time and energy helps us to realize new opportunities for ministry that bring more people into a relationship with Jesus. That is, above all else, why we are the church in Mangum: “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Please prayerfully consider how you fit into the ministry of your church and make a commitment to serve. Don’t wait for someone to “recruit” you, fill out the form, turn it in, and get involved today. Remember what Helen Keller said: “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”