Our very dear friend Robin Morrison shares a talk on the modern church being a bad descriptor, and the tension we live in, as God reveals Himself as both the lion & the lamb. It’s brilliant. Enjoy!
To end his letter to the Ephesians, Paul pulls no punches - we’re in a battle. But we are all called to make a stand. We do it in God’s strength not ours. Empowered by him we can make a difference for God’s kingdom by bringing his gospel of good news, comfort and transformation to a world in need.
Paul continues to expound on what our new humanity looks like. It looks like mutual submission- everyone putting everyone else first. In particular he concentrates on those who in his day wielded more power - those for whom being Jesus-like would have been particularly counter-intuitive and counter-cultural. Everyone thrives when no one is threatened and each looks to promote the other. This is the beauty of Christian community.
Throughout chapters one to three, Paul purposefully reminds us of all that God has already done. Now - he catapults the church into action. Paul urges the church in Ephesus (and us) to live a life worthy of our calling, and in true Paul fashion - he is unapologetically direct. Be who you now are. Identify and use your gifts for the Kingdom. Take off your old self. Unify with one another. Paul invites us into the freedom and maturity to be who we really are.
God’s grace is a gift, but it is a gift that obligates. When we receive God’s grace we are obligated to pass this grace on to everyone around us. As we do this, our relationship with God grows. This leads to us knowing the love that is unknowable: God’s love.
In Jesus, God has done everything to not only solve the problem of our alienation from Him, but also our alienation from one another. He destroys all barriers to peace. He’s done it for us so we can live free - in peace, joy, love and fullness with Him and with one another. This is the extraordinary message of grace.
The opening to the book of Ephesians was written to inspire its readers to worship. It’s a veritable kaleidoscope of the dazzling colors of the amazingness of this thing we believe in and belong to. Yet, how many of us - who were brought up with this stuff - can feel like these words have lost their meaning? Worse still - how badly have these upbringings caused us to misunderstand things? If you love a bit of demystifying and clarifying - all in massive puddle of grace, love and ‘it’s already done’ - then this talk is for you.
What does the Holy Spirit do? The early Christians first experience of the Holy Spirit was powerful. In the book of Acts, there is an explosion of the Spirit's activity - violent winds shake rooms; tongues of fire appear; the disciples stumble out into the street like drunk people; Paul is blinded and knocked from his horse; the Holy Spirit falls in power on everyone - even the Gentiles. All who experienced Him were empowered to preach the gospel of Jesus, to heal the sick and to raise the dead, to prophecy and speak in tongues. This is the work of the Spirit and He is available to all of us, all the time. Christianity is not simply about belief or behavior. It is a dynamic ongoing experience of Jesus’ power and presence through the person of his Holy Spirit.