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Mosaic Spokane

Spiritual Imagining

United We Stand

#11 in series “Postcards from the Front:  A Wartime Romance”

December 5, 2010—Ephesians 4:1-6 

Mix-It-Up:  In a group of not more than 5 people, make a list of as many things as you can think of that every member of the group has in common. 

      Hold onto your lists.  We’ll talk about them in just a moment. 

We’re in the New Testament book of Ephesians today again.  It’s called one of the “Prison Epistles” of “Prison Letters” because Paul is writing it as a prisoner from a prison in Rome.  You can visit what tradition holds to be that prison in Rome today.  It is said to be the place where both Peter and Paul were last held before their death’s at the hand of Rome in the first century A.D. 

      Ephesians is the only N.T. epistle that is not written to correct some error or address some particular problem. Not that the Ephesian church had it all together.  It didn’t.  It was comprised of sinful but redeemed human beings like you and me.  But because it isn’t addressing some church problem, it seems to sort of rise above many of the other epistles in terms of its lofty themes and message. 

If you were with us last week, you know that we spent the morning focusing upon the end of chapter 3 which talks to us about the importance of having our roots in life firmly planted in the love of Christ, a love that is very experiential yet so vast that it dwarfs even the best love-experiences of people. 

      Paul no sooner finishes talking about this incomprehensible love of God than he stacks on one more grandiose statement about the greatness of God when he gives that famous benediction you may have heard pastors say at the end of a Sunday service,

      20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”  (Ephesians 3:20-21)

First Paul points out what an amazing God we have.  He is able to actually do, actually accomplish far more than we have ever asked and far more than we can even dream about being possible.  Paul is reminding us that our concept and understanding of God is usually far too small.  The greatness of our God so far exceeds the grandest of our thoughts that Paul is moved to simply praise and exalt the indescribable greatness of God. 

That greatness, Paul says, is shown off through two living entities that, in some ways seem to be quite different but, as we will see in weeks to come, are in other ways almost inseparable. In vs. 21 Paul says that this amazing nature of God is “shown off” or “displayed visibly” or, using the biblical term, “glorified” through two entities.  What are those two living entities?  (The church and Jesus Christ)    

      I can see how Jesus Christ brings glory to God the Father.  But the church?  Really? In our generation?  That seems to be a stretch. 

      Do most Americans think of the amazing nature of God when they think of the church?  Do they see God’s amazing love, his unstoppable grace, his unending kindness, his incomparable power, his perfect justice, his spotless holiness and purity when they think of the church?  Paul did. 

      When Paul tried to measure the immeasurable God, he thought of the church and of Jesus Christ.  Those were the visible, tangible images of God’s greatness that came to his mind. 

I think we’ve lost an awful lot of that sense of God’s greatness in Christ and in the church.  I’m not sure the church struggled with fewer things in Paul’s day than the church does today.  I’m not sure it was all that much more right in its daily living than much of the church is today.  The first century church wasn’t great because it had the apostles; it was great because it had people who pressed into the greatness of God through some very challenging and hard situations.  In doing so they found that God really was a God who could do more than you asked him to do, even more than you dreamed he could do. 

Does that mean God will do everything you ask him to?  Of course not.  My wife doesn’t even do that! J  Nor does it mean he will do everything we dream about him doing.  But Paul is assuring us that he has the power to do so much more than we ask him to do and so much more than we even dare to dream he will do. 

ILL:  Imagine you are one of the 3 children of Bill and Melinda Gates.  His children are actually Jennifer Gates, age 15, Rory John Gates, age 12 and Phoebe Gates, age 9. 

  • Do you think any of those kids receives everything they ask their parents for? 
  • Do you think they have much of a grasp about how extremely wealthy their family is? 
  • Do you think they could dream up some things they would like their parents to give them or do for them that neither Bill or Melinda are going to do?  Sure. 

      But do you think Bill or Melinda Gates will withhold anything from their children that they consider to be in their best interest?  I doubt it.  They are probably giving them the best education they can find, the best vacations, the best, home, the best friends, the best protection, the best wisdom they believe they can find.  Yet there will always be SO much more family wealth than those three children can ever really experience.  After all, how do you experience $55 billion dollars of net worth before (or after) age 18?

      For starters, they are experiencing life in their family on a daily basis at their Lake Washington home in Bellevue, WA.  It’s worth about $125 million.  (Remember, their dad is a man who makes about $200 million a week, so it cost him less than a week’s worth of pay!  Not bad, huh?).  It has 40,000 square-feet of living space, a view of the Olympic Mountains (well, at least during the 3 days Seattle gets sun each year!). It has various gardens, an art collection, an indoor pool, a library, a 30-car garage, trampoline room, reception hall, and a stocked trout stream…for starters.  Personally, I like the living room aquarium (see pic).  Nice touch.

Our jaws drop just thinking of that kind of wealth, right?  But that is truly nothing in comparison with the wealth of everything our heavenly Father has.  Take God’s riches physically…just in our universe, for example.  This week a new article was released that estimates we’ve understated the number of stars in the universe by 2/3rds.  These astronomers now think that just-discovered red dwarf stars number about 3 septillion — a three followed by 24 zeros.  That brings the number of total stars, suns if you like, in the universe to three times more than previously expected.  [Read more: http://blogcritics.org/scitech/article/septillion-new-stars-found-dark-matter/#ixzz17C5p6T9S]

If God is wealthy in material things to that degree (like septillions of stars), is it even possible to talk about his “wealth” in character qualities which he is really most about?  God is spirit, so things of the spirit must be greater than even the things of the physical realm. 

How do you talk about God’s incomprehensible wealth in love, in patience, in kindness, in power, in holiness and qualities we may not even know he has yet?  God is not just a BIG version of us.  He is immensely greater in ways we can barely fathom and ways we cannot possibly fathom at all in this life. 

So I want you to do some dreaming, some sanctified “imagining”, as Paul mentions in this passage. 

If you wanted to ask God to do some amazing things by his unbounded power in your experience with His church, what would it be?  What do you want to see God’s power do with YOU and with God’s people around you? 

      Having trouble thinking of things?  I don’t think we dream enough.  And if we don’t “imagine” what God can do with us, we’re certainly not asking him to do it, are we?  Which may explain why we don’t see him doing more.    

Let’s start simple.  Let’s think for a moment what God might want to do with little ol’ Mosaic Fellowship in our community. 

  1.  What kinds of experiences might God want us to dream about having together as we are?
  2. Now, what kinds of powerful things might God want to do through Mosaic in our community?  How might God want to show the greatness of, say, his LOVE here?  His MERCY?  His KINDNESS?  His HOLINESS? 

[Share verbally some of the possible things.  Pray together about these “dreams”.]

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