So having seen who we are made in Christ. That our identity is totally transformed what does that mean for us in relation to church. Firstly, disciples commit to God’s household(19-20)
Paul shows the Ephesians the consequences of the gospel, (19)“you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.”
They are “fellow citizens”, to be a citizen was to belong, to have a home, to have rights but also to have responsibilities to others and to the city. You had a role to play in city life an din defending your way of life. Believers are also members of God’s household, part of God’s family with the joys and responsibilities that brings. And don’t shrink that image to the nuclear family, this is not about family worship in place of church. The household was a bigger unit than that. God’s family is bigger than me and mine. Both are images of belonging. Both speak of relationships, of ties that bind, of commitment.
Practically disciples need to join a church and we see what to look for. God’s household is built on the apostles and prophets, with Jesus as the chief cornerstone. Join a church which is in line with Jesus. That aligns itself with his teaching and living. What does that mean? What does it look like?
Join a church that takes Jesus seriously. That teaches what Jesus taught, not just selected bits of it, and is striving to live as Jesus lived. Join a church that’s compassionate and leads with grace not legalism. That takes sin seriously and calls us to be the holy people of God we are in Christ. That points people to Jesus for salvation alone and takes that message to the lost. Where its leaders are servant-hearted and humble. Where you will be led to love, know and enjoy God as the church preaches and applies God’s word to life. Where you’re equipped to serve and follow Jesus as you are taught about him.
Join such a church and commit to it. Don’t be a spectator or a consumer, join the household. Both the picture of the citizen and the household member involve rights and responsibilities. Privileges and duties. Both speak of community not individualism. Of a commitment to one another that’s not quickly severed. Of service not spectating.
In a commitment phobic world we need to hear this call more than ever. In a world that praises independence we need to see this call to co-dependence. In a world that increasingly calls us to look after me and mine, we need to hear the call to us that to follow Jesus is to love and serve one another.
Disciples aren’t consumers they can’t take or leave church. They are committed to doing life together, to investing heavily in one another, even though that opens us up to the possibility of being hurt.
That’s hard all the time, but especially at the moment. Some of in our church families are shielding. Some have decided because of conscience to stay home and both of those are valid decisions. Even as we gather our ability to do this well is limited by facemasks and social distancing and not mingling together.
I know we need to do this differently, I know it’s harder than we’re used to, I know it takes some thinking through to do this well. But can I encourage you not to put off doing this until life goes back to ‘normal’. Your church family needs you now. Who could you ring this week? Who could you post a card to? Could you join us on zoom at 12.30? Or at prayer meeting tonight or Tuesday or Friday? Could you come along to Bible study on Wednesday? Or we’re restarting the Yorkie men’s group or join with some of the other ladies reading Worthy together?
I know it’s not the same. I know it’s frustrating. I know there are technological glitches. But as we do each of those we’re show our commitment to being discipled and discipling others, that we’re God’s family, his people, that we want to gather, in fact I think we feed that longing.
We also need to see these truths again so we’re not trained by lockdown and online church into thinking this is gathering. Or that we don’t need one another. Or that we think we can do this via YouTube – we can’t, for the current period of time online church is necessary. Will God use it as we hear his word and respond? Yes, I have no doubt he has and he will. But, it is not same as gathering together, committing together. We are saved to serve. Called to commit. Redeemed to relate. That ought to be our normal, we mustn’t let the current temporary situation change our theology. How do we do that? By engaging now even though it is hard.