For whatever reason, God doesn’t zap humans into PERFECTION. There’s something about the journey, the PROCESS of life-renewal that makes the heart of God glad. This weekend in worship we’ll discover what it means to be equipped and engaged in the community of Christ as the life-pieces are being rebuilt. Do YOU have the guts to take on a full–life renovation?
I sit there amazed watching Fixer Upper on TV. Watching how they take the most run down property and in 55 minutes, turn it into this spectacularly remodeled home. I guess I was disappointed when I heard that it takes their remodeling team months to do all the work. When we were talking about remodeling our kitchen the amount of time it was going to take, was a big deal. Living months without a kitchen and all the mess. I don't know about you; I'd like to have it finished, like on TV in an hour.
It gets worst, the longer it drags out, the back order of supplies, getting inspections completed. Nerves become frayed. The tongues start to become quick and snap.
As time dragged on, our patience became less. Did I tell you about picking out color, or after painting not liking the color. So, patience is shot, so, one day I decided, to help things along. I took it up on my self to put the back splash up by myself. This was a wonderful act of love and good will. Nope!
So, here is the problem and I don't think I much different than most others. When it comes to problems, my problems, spiritual problem, I want to be fixed. I want to be healed. And I want it now.
I want to get rid of my issues. I want God to get rid of my lack of patience.I would like God to give me this one hour remodel so I can learn please everyone in this church. I can make the right decision every day, so everyone is happy.
I know that this is not how it works. I know that God through the power of the Holy Spirit works in His time, not mine. God works over a life time of a person. God is always revealing more and more about ourselves, and we are being asked to think about a better way. That happens day by day, moment by moment, nail by nail, over our entire life. Piece by piece God is working in you. You can look in the mirror and say, "God not finished with me."
Isn't that fantastic news. God is not done with me.
We are a work in progress, and God desires is to rebuild us, so, we can reconstruct the world for Him.
So, how do we do the job of being rebuilding? The book of Ephesians is a blue print of a full life renovation. So we are looking at the 4th chapter of Ephesian where Paul is really practical. He wants us to do the hard work of rebuilding, and that is never easy. Think about this, most normal thinking people will recognize that what God wants from us, to be fixed up, will take more then we have been willing to give. It will take more than once and a while reading our bibles. Some time churchey people like us have come to our faith on a tear and a prayer. A shopping list of what God can give us. A couple of dollars in the offering plate. To have God rebuild we have to have a full God life. Day in and day out, moment by moment and nail by nail. Living the Gospel with our best effort.
Take a look at verse 1.As a prisoner for the Lord then I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." that feels a little heavy. God has chosen you to partner with God to rebuild the world. We have a choice to make, do we just listen to it being read only on Sunday, or do we read it daily? Then do we get to work. You and I are a work in progress, and God wants us to do significant work on our lives and help the lives of others. Let's get gut honest with ourselves. When we think about yourself, there is some ugly stuff in there. If we can be honest, we can see the brokenness in our heart, the shame of past event hurts in our relationships. We can quickly see that God has a lot of work to do with us.
Think about your life. Take a moment to reflect on this week. Has there been a time in the past week when you said something you really should not have said? You thought some thing and said to yourself,"where in the world did that come from?" May be you have some times of deep sadness that you can't understand or times when shame over comes you. A fear that was covered up with anger towards someone? You know something is wrong, and its need to be addressed.
God wants to partner with us to rebuild our life, and this is something that you can't do alone. You need Gods help. We don't need to read another self-improvement flyers or self-motivation seminars. What I need for the sin sick brokenness in my life is more of the fullness of God in my life. Anything less is a band-aid on a large wound.
When I hear Paul say live a life worthy of a calling, I hear myself saying I can't or how? I can't, not with out God's help. I'm too often to stress or too tired. Too tired to be all that God wants me to be. If you are like me, than you have said, God I want to do better, God I want you more in my Life. God, I want my life to have meaning and purpose. I don't want to just slap another coat of Kills paint over it and just cover it up for another period. God, I want to build a new stronger wall. Why is so hard for us to say, God, I need you more in my life. I need you to fill me with the love of Christ. We have to recognize we need the extravagant love of God in ourselves, but we also need one another. We need each other because we are called to be the body of Christ.
Look at at ” Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one spirit just as you are called to one hope when you were called; one Lord; one faith; one baptism; one God and Father of all, which is over and through all and all.
We are United Methodist, up the road is Southern Baptist, around the corner, is Roman Catholic, etc. No matter which denomination it is we are all the Body of Christ. We are one in Christ. Paul is telling us we are one. Isn't that crazy. We have enough trouble feeling one with those who agrees with the doctrine of this denomination, how could that even be possible to feel one with people who worship in a warehouse or sing chants. This unity thing is complicated.
There are so many in our churches who want to be right. They would rather be right than be in the relationship. However, when you break the relationship, you stop all positive communication. What is left is stink. And you find yourself all alone.
As Christians, we make thousands assumption. We make assumptions that everyone agrees with me. We assume everyone thinks I have an incredible solo voice. We believe that everyone thinks I'm a great leader of my committee or everyone loves me in the role I play in the church. We do all this all the time without checking out what the truth is. If someone would say, I don't agree with you, or you tend to go flat on the high note or what ever, we have our feelings hurt. How dare that person say that its not true, I know I'm wonderful. See, in the church, any conflict is avoided. Church people tend to leave rather than say something. No one wants to hurt someone's feelings, so I'll hope it gets better and when it doesn't, we slip out the door. In church growth work shops I always hear about , closing the back door.
Then we assume new leadership or new pastor, surely he or she is going to do everything the way I want it. He is not going to change anything because I'm doing such an excellent job. All these assumptions and all these differences are working against the unity of Gods design. I say over and over in planning meetings, Don't get your feelings hurt. It's not about you.
We have to agree in the church that we are going to make it. We are not going to allow our feels to be hurt and we are going to work together for the prize. That is Gods preferred future for us.
Let's face it, being the church, living our life together, getting to know each other better, reveal our ruff edges. Sometimes it reveals our crazy spots. Our illnesses and disorders come to the surface. Through God's love, we are called to be one. Paul isn't saying only the people who you agree with, nor is he saying only men are one, or even only the healthy are one. Neither does Jesus say that. He says we are all one.
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. ()
Let's face it, being the church, living our life together, getting to know each other better, reveal our ruff edges. Sometimes it reveals our crazy spots. Our illnesses and disorders come to the surface. Through God's love, we are called to be one. Paul isn't saying only the people who are right are one, nor is he saying only men are one, or even only the healthy are one. Neither does Jesus say that. He says we are all one.
Some might be tempted to think that it is impossible to have unity. They might declare, “We are too different! We have different backgrounds, different styles of worship, and we enjoy different things. We also express ourselves differently. How in the world can we be unified?”
Paul seems to be answering this question as he reminds the church of the resources they have for unity. He describes four resources which are both commonalities of each Christian and empowerments for unity. He says, “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion” ().
This really is not a question but a confirmation. The “if” could be translated “since.” Since you have encouragement from being united with Christ, since you have comfort from his love, and since you have fellowship with the Spirit, etc.
He is not talking about uniformity. That is thinking the same things, believing the same thing. Paul is talking about unity. The unity of seeing one another as special people of the loving God brings hope. Recognizing that loves all these other people just as much as He loves me.
We are one, one Lord, one hope, one body, one faith. One God and Father who is over all, in all. Who covers all of us with His grace.
If we are having trouble with this we needing each other thing, read what Paul is says in verse 7, but to each of us, grace has been given as Christ has apportioned it. Let's remember that grace is a gift, we don't deserve it, and we can’t earn it. It's a gift. So each one of us have been given grace, and we have also been given gifts. You have gifts. Our gifts are not about us, nor are they given to make our famous. Our gifts are for the building of the Body Of Christ and the building up of one another.
The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors, and teachers., to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up the body of Christ.
You can see that in the church there will be differences, but the differences are never to be us to prove you are right, or to measure how much better you are. The differences are a strength to be used for building up. When we start using that difference to measure each other, that lead to splitting, hard feeling, and decay in the body. Before you know it, we are claiming some people are more important than others. We begin treating some people differnet then others. When that happens in a church people leave.
Sometimes not only do they leave the church they leave Jesus. We hear about it all the time. I know longer go anywhere.
Listen, every gift matters. It matters in the church; it matters to the body of Christ. My gift and function as the pastor is to empower you to live out your faith and to use your gift to build up the body of Christ. My function is to preach the word and serve the sacrament. Second to empower you to do the works of ministry as the church. All of us have gifts. All of us have a function that is important.
We need one another because we are dependent one another. The church needs your gifts and your functions.
If you have step away for a while, we miss you. If you have burned out, we miss you, if you feel un appreciated, let me say with all the heart I can, we miss you. My apologie for the ways you have been harmed and appreciated. We need you. God needs you. The body has missed you, and we need your gift and function. You have been missed.
When I love the Lord Jesus Christ, I love His people. He said that, you know. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” ().
Unity is a fragile thing and must be guarded. Paul told the Ephesian leaders, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock….” He said, “After my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” ().
There will always be the headstrong coming into congregations insisting on exercising their rights, determined to get their way, and dedicated to bending the church to their will.
The world is watching, certain that we are not the real deal, that our church is filled with hypocrites, that Jesus is a myth and the Holy Spirit just an idea.
So, something has to happen.
Someone or something has to challenge the peace and harmony in your fellowship. The Lord allows this in order to create a canvas on which to display His special creation. We have to expect challenges to the unity, and be prepared to respond in faith since the Lord has clearly decided to do something special in them at this time.
Pastor, the time to teach principles of unity to your people is when everything is going well. Teach them to expect challenges to the unity, and prepare them to respond in faith since the Lord has clearly decided to do something special in them at this time.
The disciples “returned rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for His name” ().