What is this series about?
Through this series we will be studying the book of Ephesians and learning about our position in Christ, our life in the world, and our attitude toward the enemy.
It’s Him, not you
His love is greater than you know
His power is greater than you can imagine
Questions to Ponder
What are some areas where you are relying on you when you should be relying on God?
What are some ways in which you’ve made God too small?
Which “list” and “small god” do you find yourself struggling with?
What can we do to make us smaller and God bigger?
Eternal Life Begins Now
By Scott Sutton
Did you miss the end of the world?
I’ll admit, this last one almost passed me by. April 23, 2018. Someone read some obscure passage of scripture. Someone did some math. Somehow it all added up to 4/23/18. April 23 came. April 23 went. We’re still here. The world is still broken and hurting. And someone else is off somewhere doing the next math.
We’ve been predicting the end of the world since the beginning of the world. So far we’ve been wrong 100% of the time. But the fact that we keep trying reveals something about our nature. Something about our fears, our anxieties, our sense that this world is deeply broken. Sometimes this burden gets so heavy that we simply want out and we long for that day.
But as Jesus prepared to go to his death, he wasn’t concerned about taking his followers out of the world. In fact, he prayed exactly the opposite. In the Gospel of John Chapter 17, we read Jesus’ prayer immediately before he was arrested and crucified. He knew that his day had come and he poured out his heart to the Father. Read his prayer in John 17. As Charlie taught today about sitting in the truths that God’s love is greater than we know and that his power is greater than we can imagine, I kept coming back to a couple of truths from this prayer that I need to be constantly reminded of.
Eternal life begins now. “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) All of the stuff of heaven begins in us now. When we think about how we will worship in heaven, we should begin worshipping him that way now. When we think about how we will love God in heaven, we should begin loving him that way now. When we think about how we will relate to our neighbors in heaven, we should begin relating to them that way now. If we picture a heaven without shame, or hunger, or strife, we should begin building that world now. Eternal life has already begun in us. The eternal journey of exploring an infinite God. Infinite love. Infinite power. We don’t have to wait until the end of the world; the journey is already underway.
Be fully here, fully present, fully engaged. “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you would protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world even as I am not of it.” (John 17:15) Could you imagine being one of Jesus’ followers witnessing his resurrection and ascension? You might be tempted, especially with persecution literally knocking at your door, to wring your hands awaiting your turn. Alright, Jesus went first, when is it my turn? But Jesus was really specific in his prayer. We aren’t going with him. Not yet. He’s leaving us here. There’s work to do. He doesn’t want us out of the world…he wants us neck-deep in it, protected from the evil one. Again, in the muck and mire of this world, it’s tempting to socially take ourselves out of it or spiritually long to be taken out of it. And in doing so, we miss the very thing that Jesus really wanted for us. To be fully in this world. Fully present in its happenings. Fully engaged in the hurting and the longing around us.
I love how Charlie closed by stating that we ask God to change our circumstances, when he wants to change our heart. Let’s not get too distracted by the hope of heaven to come that we lose sight of our calling now. And by God’s love and God’s power, we can.
To be clear, I do believe we can take Jesus at his word that he will return someday to set the world right – to transform the ground overgrown with thorns into a new earth, to put death to death, to vanquish and judge the sins that have kept the world in oppression and bondage. It could happen tomorrow. It could have happened on April 23, though not because of someone with a few verses and a calculator. Eternal life is now. Jesus wants us here, present, engaged.