Sometimes, I think the Church has been confused about what or who we are.
In Ephesians 1, we learn about God’s ultimate plan for the world and we discover what the Church actually is, and the role it has to play in our world and even beyond!
Ephesians 1: “This is the plan for the fullness of time to unite (anakephalaio) all things in him” (vs.10). “God put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (vs. 22).
All creation will be united in Christ’s body or through Christ’s body, which is us—the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
Did you catch that? The Church is not a building, or an institution, or a 501c3.
The Church is Christ’s Body—“the fullness of him who fills all in all”, and it’s under construction in space and time. It is made of vessels that have already received a call to unity and have begun to experience unity in space and time. And yet, we’re each born into this world of space and time as separate and individual vessels.
In Ephesians 4:1-6 Paul urges us: “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call–one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
Now, those last sentences contain some remarkable statements! And yet it seems we Christians don’t fully believe them.
We look around, and it looks like there are at least 7.5 billion bodies in the world.
But Paul says, “No, in reality, there’s only One Body!
It would seem there are at least 7.5 billion spirits within those 7.5 billion bodies.
But Paul wrote, “One Spirit.”
Paul goes on: “One Hope, One Lord…,” and Jesus is Lord.
And Jesus said, “I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life.”
That means that there really is only One Way, One Truth, and One Life. Only one way to get from one place to another place, and that’s Jesus. So, if anybody anywhere makes any progress it is done through Jesus.
All truth that’s any truth is somehow Jesus. And any experience of life—that’s real life—is an experience of Jesus: One Lord, One faith…so in reality, there aren’t many faiths. There may be false faiths, but all true faith is one faith.
Do you believe it?
We say there is one God, but we really struggle with the idea that God is One.
The philosopher Immanuel Kant talked about thesis and antithesis. A thesis is an idea, and an antithesis is another idea opposed to the first idea. So people will say things like: “We have to hold truth in tension,” as if there are two different truths.
We’ll say stuff like, “God is love,” and then say, “Yeah, but God is also truth.” “God is merciful” and then say, “Yeah, but God is just.” That’s thesis and antithesis. These kinds of statements reveal that we think love and truth are in tension within God—like God is 62% love and 38% truth—or maybe God is only 43% love and 57% truth.
I just want to point out that we think truth and love are in tension, and so we think God is in tension, and so we think we should be in tension. But Truth is not in tension; Love is not in tension; God is not in tension. WE are in tension because our understanding of the God is in tension. I hold truth in tension, not because truth is divided, but because I am divided. And because I’m divided, I’m divided from God…and so I’m divided from everyone else.
I perceive myself as thesis and everyone else as antithesis. I perceive myself as one and everyone else as divided. I perceive myself as God and everyone else as my competitor.
But God is One. “Hear oh Israel the Lord our God is One” (Deut. 6:4). “One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:6).
And Jesus prayed that we would be one as He and the Father are one (John 17:21).
But if we are divided (not one), tossed back and forth in this tension of thesis and antithesis, and God is undivided (One) how can we ever grow into all that He intends us to be?
Take a look at Ephesians 4:7-8a“Grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, ‘When he ascended on high he led a host of captives…’” So, how do we grow into all that God has created us to be? Grace! Jesus—who is Grace, shows us the way to freedom.
We were captives But now in Christ Jesus, through the gift of grace, we are released from the law, “having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code” (Rom. 7:6).
And even our serving is a gift of Grace: “’And he gave gifts to men.’ (In saying, ‘He ascended,’ what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? [Literally, “of the earth”] He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until WE ALL attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 7b-13).
Church, you are no longer held captive, you no longer have to live in tension. God has released us: “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine [teaching], by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”
o that we may no longer be subject to the lies of the ‘“rulers and authorities,” “principalities and powers,” (That say there’s this teaching and that teaching, this group and that group and you need to compete).
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him [Or, “we are to grow the all into him”] who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped [“supplied”], when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love (Eph. 4:14-16).
God is not 62% love and 38% truth. Or maybe 43% love and 57% truth.
He is One. He is all love and all truth and you are His Body “the fullness of him who fills all in all”. You are not just a building or an institution. You have a vital role to play.
In a world filled with hostility, competition, division, and death, you are His Body, the presence of God Himself in this world. You are to speak Truth in Love or do Truth in Love. You are to grow up into Him in every way, to be built up in Love by Him, and build others up in Love through Him.
There is an anakephalaio (a uniting of ALL things) and God has chosen you, His Church to see it, participate in it, and proclaim it now and always.
God is not part love and part truth. God is all Love and He speaks nothing but Truth. He speaks One Word, and One Logos, and One Logic–One Reason—Jesus!
Can you think of a truth that cuts more deeply?
Can you think of a love that heals more thoroughly?
He’s the Word of Truth revealing that God is Love.
Believe this Word, speak this Word and be a vessel of this Word in reconciling all things to God. This Word is the Gospel; it is Jesus—God is Salvation.
“I pray that they may be one, Father, just as I am in you and you in me.”
This devotional was prepared by Kimberly Weynen, Peter Hiett’s assistant. It is a compilation of devotional thoughts from Kimberly and excerpts from Peter’s sermon titled “Body Building (Through Dialectical Reasoning)” To read, watch or listen to the sermon in its entirety click here: Body Building (Through Dialectical Reasoning).
Discussion questions are available here: 2.10.2013 Discussion Questions