Going Deeper 10-31-19

The second reading for All Saints Sunday…

Ephesians 1:11-23   In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.  In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God's own people, to the praise of his glory.  I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers.  I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.  God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come.  And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church,  which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.


A professor of Biblical studies begins his commentary on this text with the following statement: “In the western portion of the northern hemisphere, the church has lost much of its clout.”  Yes, it has.  In our nation, church attendance is dropping at a rather alarming rate, creating a rather tenuous situation for smaller congregations.  Those who do participate on a somewhat regular basis are more and more being drawn to mega-churches, which feature the best and most programs and options, whose services are upbeat, and whose preachers are eloquent and come across as relevant.


Throughout his writings, Paul has a lot to say about the Church.  What is critical for God’s children to recognize—especially in our day and age—is that the Church is not an institution or an organization.  The last verse of our reading lays it out quite clearly.  The church is the Body of Christ, and Jesus is the Head.  And Paul describes Jesus using the most eloquent and superlative-filled language possible.


There continues to be a ton of “church growth” resources—periodicals, books, videos, seminars, etc.— available to church leaders to assist them in growing their church… or at least keeping it alive.  And there is value in paying attention to this collective wisdom.  But I hold on to the core value that the most important thing is to help people understand that it is not simply a matter of going to church, but of understanding the fact that we are the Church.


We are part of the Body of Christ… the incomprehensibly powerful and majestic, yet imminent and intimate, Jesus Christ, the very Son of God and Savior of all.  We are connected to and dependent upon Him.  He is the source of life and of love.  And because all of us are connected to Him, we are also connected to one another. 


We gather not to “go to” church, but to celebrate the fact that by grace we are the Church, and to grow together in and through Him, and to discover and develop and deploy the gifts He has granted each and all of us in order to carry out His/our mission of proclaiming the Gospel in order to make disciples of all people and teaching them to obey what He has taught us.  And above all, He has taught us to love, and has shown us how.


We are the Church!


With You in Him,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church
Wellington, Colorado

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."