Thoughts after reading a passage from Ephesians, and attending the Festival of Faith and Writing:
“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… (Ephesians 3:10, NIV).”
When I read this passage, I thought, “Hmmm…who are the rulers and authorities…why do they care what the church is doing…what is the church doing anyway?”
Commentaries noted that “manifold wisdom” means that God’s wisdom is like an intricately cut diamond, that has many faces and facets that enhance its beauty. Commentaries noted that God’s work through the church, causes angels and heavenly beings to glorify God.
“But many people have been hurt by the church,” I thought. “God’s wisdom may be manifold, but the church is too often a ‘diamond in the rough,’ its facets shrouded and clouded. “
(Photo at right: My prayer beads look like diamond dewdrops in the garden)
I heard a great speaker at the Festival. He said that he was initially excited about the call to follow Jesus. Then he became disillusioned, when this call got equated with going to church and being good. Later, this man read in the Bible about Jesus and his radical love. Now this man is a prison chaplain and shines brightly with a heavenly flame.
This response fits with Paul’s letter to the Ephesian, which is about God’s amazing and radical work, in making Jews and Gentiles into one body in Christ (see Eph. 3:6). Paul goes on to say that when Christ ascended, he gave gifts to his people, to build up his body, the church (Eph. 4:7-13). God has given all of us unique gifts.
You may be a prison chaplain; you may write children’s picture books, but when you think of following Jesus, don’t just think about going to church and being good. Lets’s think about being the church that God intends, and letting the love of Jesus flow to us and through us, outside of the church building. Let God show us the unique people he has called us to be, the gifts he has given us that help us connect to him with joy. Let the living water spill out of us into the world.Let’s iInvite others to connect to Jesus and his body, the church. This is radical. This is Jesus.
The prison chaplain is named Chris Hoke; he has written awesome books, and his website is: http://chris-hoke.com/
I heard the prison chaplain speak at the Festival of Faith and Writing, April 14-16, 2016, at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a very awesome conference!
Please comment on any of these questions:
- How does the idea of being observed by angels and heavenly beings, affect how you interact with people in the church?
- Has your church experience been mostly positive or negative?
- Why/how is God’s glory in the church so often shrouded and clouded?
- What gifts has God given you?
- How do these gifts help you connect to God and build up Christ’s body?