As I sat down this morning to blog with you, I had this warm sense that our blog has become like a group of friends who have one thing in common, their love for Jesus, sitting around a crackling ingleside chatting about this precious, common love we have for Him.
After listening to the song “Father not my will but Yours be done”, I heard the following:
“My will has, as it were, two parts – there is the grand part where My will is to gather a people for Myself – My kingdom subjects – those who are going to make up My Bride – to this end I am working globally in every corner of the world – from the Muslim countries which don’t allow Christianity to the Western countries where many Christians have become lazy, ‘fat cats’, overweight physically and spiritually obese as they greedily keep My Spirit and resources for themselves. Then the other part of My will concerns My relationship with you – here I am wooing you into a bridal relationship, I will not force My will on you but hold out My love and grace as I draw you to Me and am preparing you for the role I have in mind for you in My final kingdom. As you grow closer to Me you are surrendering your will more and more to Mine – and I am leading you constantly in this quest. Ultimately the measure of your Christianity is perseverance and not momentary emotional experiences.” Father not my will but Yours be done.
Reflecting on what Paul has to say in Colossians on fulfilment, I have been thinking about what he says in Ephesians on fullness and being filled. When I was in the Charismatic environment much was being said about fullness and being filled, often focusing on Ephes 5:18b. The picture, as I understood it then was sort of passive. A person was like a glass of water. You needed to keep praying that God would fill and keep the glass full and if it was really full it would spill over and affect those around you.
We need to understand firstly that this was a letter sent to several churches and so the theme of the letter, although it obviously addresses individual needs and responsibilities as well, is mainly addressed to the church. So in ch 1, Paul shows how each Christian has received everything that God gives, in the Spiritual realm, with His attitude of love and grace to each one. Our need is to understand the extent of what this gift really means is highlighted in the prayer in vs 15ff. A communal understanding, if grasped fully will reflect in the church as a body which demonstrates and experiences Christ’s fullness as He fills everything (vs 23).
In ch 3 from vs 14 Paul prays a prayer which is firstly a prayer for the church, for power to remain Christian and to experience the full extent of Christ’s love, which will result in them experiencing His fullness (3:19). Obviously this prayer involves the individual as well, but the focus of Paul is the church.
The first part of ch 4, 1-16 is a beautiful picture of how Christ’s church should function, demonstrating complete unity. When the people are all using their gifts correctly for the benefit of each other, the church will grow into maturity, vs 13, reaching the whole measure of Christ’s fullness, fulfilling thus God’s desire for His church as laid out earlier.
Paul then goes on to show how it is necessary for us to be obedient if the purpose of the church is to be fulfilled, finally coming to he statement in ch 5:18, which is often concentrated on without taking the context of the whole letter up to then into consideration. So look now: vs 15, be careful then how you live – iow, continue to practice all I have said up to now about obedience, using all the opportunities God gives you to contribute to the functioning of the church. Vs 17, don’t be foolish, but understand. Reminding us of the prayer in ch 1:15,16, how important understanding and knowledge of God’s will is, through the means He has given. And now the crunch – don’t get drunk on wine, instead be filled with Spirit. This is actually not really an either, or situation. He is using the example of how wine controls you when you have had too much, in a similar way you should allow the Spirit to control you. That really means much more than a few words can explain, because into that goes our whole relationship, as described in ch 5 Galatians for instance. It is a life, governed by knowing and interacting with Jesus and being obedient in His strength to His guidance.
To sum up then; while it obviously starts with our individual relationship and walk with Jesus, the concept of “being filled” in Ephesians, is best experienced and expressed in the interaction of the Christian community. These are just a few thoughts and not an exhaustive study but showed me again how important our church relationships and functioning are.
- Paul's Fire for the Purity of the Gospel.
- So Then, Let's Listen to Jesus.
- Simon - a False Shadow of Messiah?
- Being a blessing, through spiritual fruit.
- Comfort for a People in the Wilderness.
- The God with the Unique Ability to Save.
- Banqueting with the Lord.
- The Invitation.
- More on Christian Freedom.