November 26, 2017
Reflecting on the theme for this Sunday*, I thought I’d post a little background info. to fill out our time in Ephesians 1:15-23 This text is an introductory prayer of thanksgiving for the church at Ephesus. In verses 15-19 Paul thanks God for the “relational resources” He has blessed the Ephesians with; revelation, wisdom, open eyes and an eternal hope. I was inspired in this section by NT Wright (https://ojs.st-andrews.ac.uk/index.php/TIS/article/viewFile/1215/931) who talks about how the Ephesian church, and our contemporary churches, seem to have lost sight of the hope held out to us in scripture and in the resurrection power of hope.
As we move into the last few verses of this text we encounter the main theme of the morning, the authority, power, and position of the resurrected and exalted Jesus. Jesus as King certainly has universal and eternal scope, but our 3 main reminders come as we try and grasp how He functions as head of the church. To illustrate this principle, we tried to stay in the metaphor of a head governing and exercising authority over a body. In thinking about this, I came across a helpful article by Frank Viola (http://pastors.com/5-ways-jesus-head-church/) which helps us frame our thinking in this relationship. When Viola’s ideas combine with the teaching of people like Dallas Willard about spiritual formation we have a potent combination of ideas.
- Jesus directing His Church in obedience to His call, giving specific commands, in specific circumstances, for a specific response. God still calls His people to obedience and service in the same ways He spoke to Peter, Paul, Phillip, and others in the New Testament.
- Jesus forming the Church to His character, through spiritual formation. Dallas Willard has been heavily influential in this area of our understanding, describing the role of spiritual disciplines as enabling us to something we could not otherwise do by direct effort. (Renewing the Christian Mind p. 32) The church learns to display His character as it practices simple obedience, expresses love for one another, serves the oppressed, worships together etc.
- Jesus nurtures the church through communion, as we encounter his spiritual presence, engage in service and receive the sacraments. As His people, we are sustained by Christ’s presence in us and with us, as we are filled with His Spirit, incarnate His presence in serving others, and receive His gracious presence practicing the means of grace He instructed.
*I will be posting reflections like this throughout Advent as a way of sharing some resources that are helping me, shaping me, and informing my understanding of the passages we are studying together.