Learning from Ephesians and the 23rd Psalm (Part Four)
"He restores my soul" (Psalm 23:3) - Christ, Cross and Church
"Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full on His wonderful face."
This is what we must do if we want to grow spiritually. We cannot grow spiritually if we are preoccupied with ourselves and our own interests. We can only gow spiritually if, again and again, we turn to the Lord Jesus and His words; "Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33).
When our life is centred upon Christ, there is always a contrast between the way things used to be and the way they are now. In Ephesians 2:12-13, Paul puts it this way: "Once you were separated from Christ, now in Christ Jesus you have been brought near." No longer far off, now brought near - This is what Christ has done for us. We look to Christ, and we say, "He restores my soul."
We are "brought near in the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:13). We are "reconciled to God through the Cross" (Ephesians 2;16). When we think of Christ, we think also of His Cross. Christ was more than a great teacher and a great example. He is "the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us" When we consider the Cross, we look to Christ and we say, "He is our peace" (Ephesians 2;140. Enjoying peace with God through Christ, we say, "He restores my soul."
From Christ and the Cross, we move on to the Church. We don't begin and end with the Church. We must be grounded in Christ and His Cross. We are the Church of Christ, ever thankful for the Cross. We don't think of Christ and His Cross in terms of personal experience only. "He is our peace", bringing us peace with God and putting us at peace with one another. Those who have come to the Cross, trusting Christ, now belong to the Church. We need to get the right balance between personal experience of Christ and the life of fellowship in His Church.
Leave out peace with God and you have superficial religion.
Leave out peace with one another and you have a religion appears highly spiritual but it's not very practical.
Christ - especially Christ crucified - is very precious to us. He is our peace. He is our "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30). He is our life (Colossians 3:4). He is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1; Colossians 1:27). He is the atonement for our sins (1 John 2:2).
Note "our" - not simply "my". Our experience of Christ's blessings grows stronger as we share in fellowship with others who have also come to enjoy those blessings through faith in Christ.