In our study through the book of Ephesians on Wednesday nights, I came across a pretty cool thing. Last week we looked at the second half of chapter 1. When we got to verses 20-23 I was blown away. Here it is:
"he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all." (Eph. 1:20-23, ESV)
Now, read it again in The Message:
"God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven,21 in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever.22 He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything." (Eph. 1:20-22, MSG)
Jesus has been placed in authority over everything, from galaxies to government...He is in charge and in control!
And now, check this out...
"At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. 23 The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence. He tore down the wall." (Eph. 1:22-23, MSG)
Sometimes I get a bit overwhelmed and stressed out when I think about growing a campus. I feel responsible when our attendance drops or remains the same. I feel disappointed when first time guests don't come back. (Please understand, I am not just going for more numbers...however, each number represents an individual, a life that God cares about very much. The higher the numbers, the more people we are reaching).
But if what Ephesians says is true - that the church is not peripheral to the world - the world is peripheral to the church - if it is true that church is at the center of all that Christ rules - that means that everything Christ rules, from galaxies to government, all centers on the church, the body of Christ!
If this is true, then we are a part of the most important thing in all of creation. We are a part of the center of all that Christ has been placed in charge of! He has chosen to put His church at the center of His rule!
Here's the thing. We could easily sit back right now, and pat each other on the back, and talk about the "good 'ole days" of Benton Heights. We could look back and remember the days of unloading the trailer each week and having church in a cozy little elementary school auditorium. We could easily look at all that has been happened and feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. (After all...we've managed to grow from 60 to 130 so far this year. That is pretty good growth!) We have amazing servants, people working hard in every area of ministry.
We could easily put things on cruise control - and we might continue to grow some, we might stay the same - we certainly would continue to get better at what we are doing right now.
But I don't believe we as a church are called to coast. We have room in our building to grow. We have the opportunity to reach so many more people for Jesus! But its not just going to happen. We will have to work at it.
I hope - I hope that each of you is actively inviting people to come to church. I invited 5 or 6 people just this week. If we believe the Bible, then we must believe what Ephesians says - that the church is at the center of everything Christ does. If we believe that is true, then we had better get on board and start bringing people to be a part of it.
All I can do is praise God for allowing me to be a part of the very center of everything He rules! Thank you Jesus.