Thank You for the opportunity to worship You – that someday, the clouds will be rolled back as a scroll and what we know to be true will become sight. Our sorrow and difficulty will be gone and we’ll be with You. We look forward to that day – and ask that that day would come soon.
Last week – we looked at our first reason for living – to know and love God – Matt. 22:
36 "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" 37 And He said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' 38 "This is the great and foremost commandment.
This is repeating what we learned from Deuteronomy 6 last week.
Jesus is saying this is the most important thing – but then He says something else – from Leviticus.
39 "The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."
This week we will look at loving God’s people – and next week we will look at going outside the church and loving them.
Eph. 4:1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love
Last week – it was “How are you doing?” - this week – it is – “How is your walk with the Lord?”
You might say – I had a good quiet time – so I’m good. Or maybe you memorized the book of Leviticus (and if you did, you probably need counseling) – but how does Paul say we measure love? By how we love other people.
2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love,
Humility – the same word as in Phil 2:3-4
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; 4 do not [merely] look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Instead of being proud and selfish – regard others as more important.
So what he is saying – humility is the ability to forget about my own self interests and to focus my attention on someone else’s needs.
What I would say – remember James – the source of relational conflict – selfishness and pride? Paul is saying – the answer to that is considering others’ needs more than my own. When it comes to loving one another in the church and outside – I urge you to memorize this verse and put it into practice – Think – the other person’s needs are more important than my own. If you do that – you will have fewer sources of conflict.
In Ephesians – he is telling the church to look out for others’ needs – not simply their own.
Showing tolerance – showing forbearance – I don’t hear that word too often outside of the Bible in normal speech. Your boss doesn’t talk about your forbearance too often – but tolerance doesn’t really do it either – like, I’m okay, you’re okay – but to suffer with – suffer with/for one another - put up with one another. There is a requirement to suffer with others’ problems.
All of us – you all have things in your life – and me too – that other people, just, can’t put up with. Others suffer with you because of areas in your life. We think – oh no – I have to put up with that? When you think that way – there are things they have to put up with in the same way.
In the husband/wife relationship – I’ve never heard this before – Maybe I’ll throw this into my next marriage…ceremony…that I preach – To love/cherish/suffer with/put up with all their junk.
I think, if we are working –think about raising your kids – there is a lot of suffering – you give up a lot for them. You give up a lot of sleep early on – but as a result – you make choices that are difficult – as a result of that suffering – they grow. It is no different with our relationships with others. Transformation and growth require us to suffer with one another.
Eph. 4: 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 [There is] one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
The reason we need to live like this – so there is a unique unity and love – something that is not seen outside of the church. Diligent to preserve unity and peace. People can’t get that anywhere else. The church should be a place where people can get that peace and unity – there is so much division and separation – Paul is calling for a unity that can only be achieved when we are willing to suffer with others’ problems. All of this is very nice – but hard to do – but the real question is WHY do we do this? As we look at our purposes – being part of a church is part of it. But why is the church here and why do we need to do this. It is bigger – he goes through this creed – one body/one Lord – Church is bigger than just a place to come and feel good and be cared for and learn a little bit. It needs to be more than that. That is not enough motivation to give up your life for others. I hope you are not offended – that is not enough motivation –
It has always been God’s plan to bring everyone into one family – in one relationship with God – and that family would demonstrate God’s character – John 17 – He prays that these would be one as We are one. He is asking that God would give them the same kind of unity and relationship as exists in the trinity. So that is the purpose of the church – as we live our lives for one another – it demonstrates who God is – and this great story of the gospel. It is a window and gives light to it.
Eph. 3: 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; 10 in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly [places.]
We are going through Genesis in our men’s time. Picture what is going on here. – It talks about the trinity – “Let us make man in our image.” – and Paul wants us to have the same unity.
What he does – He is giving us the purpose of the church. We gather together so that all may know and understand WHO God is and what He is all about. When you think of that – and realize that your love and unity for another person will be a part of revealing this to not only the world, but all the rulers and authorities in the heavens.
This mystery was hidden for ages in God.
When God started it all, He knew what was going to happen.
Yesterday was the third best day of the year – after Christmas and Easter – the start of the college football season. Imagine God gathering all the heavenly beings into a stadium and saying – “Watch this! Let there be LIGHT!” – and you can see them all – OOOO!
Then He goes through creation – - and Satan, and all the angels – Michael, Gabriel, Clarence – are all there – and God says – “Let us make man in our image.” – and there is Adam. And then His creation rebels. And I’m sure some second-guessed God. But then Jesus came – and some may have thought he was off his rocker – I’m ad-libbing here. Then Jesus is crucified - - do you remember The Passion – the character who played Satan with such a face of victory at the crucifixion – but then he realizes he has lost. We are reflecting this story – and it is through us that God makes it known to all.
It is as if there were 3 chairs – and then at the crucifixion – He brings in a fourth chair – He brings US into relationship with Him and Jesus and The Holy Spirit. God reveals His plan through you. And me. Let me read this – a little wordy…
The mystery now available to all was concealed in the mind of God so not to be known even in angelic intelligence.
"What had been screened from the angelic hierarchy (cf. 1:21) is now to be declared through the body of Christ on earth (2:6-7). The ecclesiological implications of such a verse as this are staggering indeed (cf. 1Pe 1:12). Through the mirror of the church, the angels of heaven see the glory of God."
8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; 10 in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly [places.] 11 [This was] in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.
When we do this, we are demonstrating to all WHO God is – and His great plan through all eternity to reveal His love to everyone.
Let’s pray. Help us to understand. Open our eyes to see – ‘the clouds to be rolled back as a scroll’ – may we be able to peer into the cosmic reality that is influenced by my actions on this earth.