Read Ephesians 4:1-16
It’s easy to spend thousands on books and courses to help you become a better human. We’re preoccupied with how I can reach my potential and have the best life I can.
There’s a fatal flaw in that approach. What if my boss is a tyrant, or my spouse is a control freak? I can learn to disassociate, to isolate myself for my own sanity, but human flourishing is something we can only do together. Who can show us how to develop a better life together?
Let me recommend a book. It’s called Ephesians. It’s the good news that God is working to restore not just me but all of us together to become all he intended. Continue reading “Becoming human: life in Christ (Ephesians 4:1-16)”
Jesus’ kingship defines our role.
Christology shapes ecclesiology. How we understand Jesus and his mission defines how we understand ourselves and our role in his world.
Continue reading “The church’s role: public servants”
The church has an important role in restoring the earth as God’s kingdom, but the church isn’t the goal. The church points to something bigger than itself: life under Jesus’ kingship.
Continue reading “The kingdom goal (Ephesians 4:14-16)”
The gospel of the Lord is the good news of his kingdom — his kingship restored to the earth in his anointed. Here it is in summary:
Ephesians 4 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe. (NIV)
The Bible’s whole story in that verse. Our heavenly sovereign entrusted his earthly realm to people who rebelled against his kingship and ended up as captives to evil instead. Instead of using force to defeat force, God’s anointed ruler joined us in our captivity, dying at the hands of the rulers who were puppets of evil. When God raised him out of death, the captives enslaved under death were set free — free to live in the reign of God’s anointed. When the king was restored to us, his kingdom was restored to the universe.
Since God designed humans to be agents of the divine sovereign’s reign in his earthly realm (Genesis 1), the Messiah restored this mandate to humanity. The resurrected king gave gifts to humanity. His gifts were people — people entrusted with the responsibility to share in his management of the planet, by leading humanity into communal life under his kingship:
Ephesians 4 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (NIV)
This is unique. Any other ruler would have been wary of trusting power to ex-rebels, but Jesus entrusts his regal dominion to people, servants who empower the whole of humanity to grow up into Christ, our king.
Continue reading “Empowering the king’s servants (Ephesians 4:10-13)”
What does God intend the church to be and do? That question matters more than all the goals and KPIs we set for ourselves.
So how does this sound?
Ephesians 3 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms. (NIV)
Say, what? Does the church exist so God can show off to rulers and spiritual beings?
With the wrong assumptions, this picture is a dark puzzle. But it makes brilliant sense when illuminated by the story about God’s kingship (the kingdom of God), revealed in his Messiah. Continue reading “Revealing the reign (Ephesians 3:10)”
Ekklēsia is a strange word for early Christians to choose for church. It was used for political gatherings, not religious ones. They had words for religious meetings (synagōgē) or general gatherings (e.g. sullogos). Why ekklēsia?
It’s odd enough to choose this word for a local church meeting, such as “the ekklēsia that meets in your home” (Philemon 2). But it’s beyond odd to use this word for something that is not a local assembly, such as “the ekklēsia throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria” (Acts 9:31).
How did this usage arise? Let’s start with what ekklēsia meant before Christians borrowed it.
Continue reading “Why “church”?”
How come the epistles talk more about church than kingdom?
Kingdom was Jesus’ priority, the restoration of God’s reign. But when we turn to the epistles, there’s more about church than kingdom. Why?
The church doesn’t seem to measure up to Jesus’ kingdom ideal. It’s almost like, “Jesus preached the kingdom, but what we got was the church” (Alfred Loisy, l’Evangile et l’Eglise, 1902, 111).
We need to re-establish the connection between church and kingdom. The connection is Jesus. The head of the church is the king of the kingdom. Continue reading “Kingdom or Church?”