Tamworth Community Presbyterian Church Experiencing Christ In Community

Introduction

This morning we are having a look at book of Ephesians,

  • And today we are looking at a passage that is not only at the halfway point in the book,
  • But, it’s also a turning point in its focus.

The section of Ephesians before this passage, chapters 1-3… those chapters are mostly focused on theology.

  • Paul… who wrote this book…
  • Paul has been laying down some of the most important aspects of how God saves us,
  • And how all people,
  • Jew and Gentile,
  • are saved in Christ

But now the focus shifts.

  • Now Paul is going to spend the second half of the letter talking about living for Christ.
  • How once we are saved by him…
  • The way we live must now reflect that salvation.

Now, something that’s important to remember is, that when Paul wrote this letter to the Ephesians here...

  • Paul was in gaol.
  • His freedom has been removed.
  • He is far from enjoying the best things this world has to offer.
  • And he is in this situation because of… Jesus!

So he writes this passage that we are looking at today, knowing it is because his commitment in Jesus that he is in this state.

  • Paul has lived for Christ,
  • and it has cost him his life.
  • at least… in this world.

Hence why he urges these people he writes to here…

  • Brothers and sisters who also have their life in Christ...
  • He now begs them to also live out that life commitment.

Paul says here in our first verse;

“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

So having established the theology of their salvation in the opening chapters.

  • This is where he now implores them to understand that since they have been chosen in Christ,
  • Now they have to make that life count.
  • They have to live it for Jesus.

And we get in this small passage here…

  • these 6 verses we are looking at today.
  • We get here two big points that we need to look at this morning.

The first one is…

  • how we are to live.
  • What our lives are to look like,
  • if we are truly living a life worthy of the calling we have received.

Now of course this point gets really fleshed out a lot more in the next few chapters that we are not going to be looking at.

  • But for today,
  • we see here the kind of character those living for Christ should exhibit.
    • He we have had our sins forgiven,
    • And if we are to be light to the world,
    • So that others can see this great relationship we now have with God…
    • Then the way we live needs to reflect this calling.

So that’s the first thing we will look at today. The character we are to have once we now have our faith in Christ.

And the second thing this morning… is going to be understanding…

  • why these things matter.
  • What gets achieved when we live the way we are instructed here,
  • And also,
  • What damage does it do, when we don’t.

And those two big points,

  • How we should live…
  • And why…
  • These are the two things we are going to look at now.

But before we go any further, how about I pray;

 

Body

Point 1: How we are to live

The first point,

  • how we live…
  • this can be seen in verse 2 of our passage.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

As here we get a list,

  • of the kind of character traits that are to be seen in someone,
  • who is truly living a life that is worthy,
  • of what we have been given in Jesus.

As mentioned at the start,

  • if we have repented of our sin,
  • and believe, that sin, to have been forgiven by Jesus…
  • then there has to be a new life…
  • a new person…
  • in thought, attitude, and action.

We cannot just continue to live like those who have not be regenerated through Christ.

So looking at the list now…

  • The things we see here in verse 2…
  • the first thing we see is that we are to be humble and gentle.

Now this goes completely against, the cultural norm of the time.

  • When Paul wrote this letter…
  • The people he wrote this letter to…

This was when Christians were living in a culture where;

  • the rich walked around in fine clothes followed by slaves to show their wealth and power.
  • Where the fit would strip off, and compete against their rivals to show their amazing body… and what a specimen they are.
  • Where generals boasted about their war endeavours, and their great victories on the battle field.
  • And where religious rulers showed how righteous they were, and would then tell everyone to follow their

During this time… Humbleness wasn’t something that got you ahead in life.

  • Humbleness was for the slave.
  • The one who had nothing to boast about.

And while this was the culture of the time 2000 years ago on the other side of the world…

  • At least on this issue…
  • it’s probably not that different to our culture today.

Certainly more and more,

  • Self promotion, and showing off is becoming more acceptable,
  • Certainly in the internet age.
  • Humbleness these days get you nowhere.

But this behaviour,

  • Which is all about putting yourself first,
  • And therefore putting others beneath yourself.
  • This is in complete contrast to how Jesus lived,
  • and also how he expects us to live.  

One thing easily forgotten when we think about Jesus… is that Jesus was in fact the most powerful man this world has ever seen.

  • Jesus could walk right through an angry crowd and they could do nothing to stop him.
  • He could destroy an army and win any contest if he so desired.
  • He could even make the wind and the waves obey him…. As He had power over nature itself.

Jesus is the most power person in history, because after all… He is God.

  • He is unlimited by his very nature.
  • The one who the world was made through,
  • and who in King over all things.

And yet…

  • despite having all this power.
  • Despite being the one who could do anything he wants.
  • Jesus decided to live in poverty and let himself get crucified.

Despite being the most righteous man on earth,

  • who would be treated as a King if people could only see and understand who He truly was…
  • Even though he could live such a glorious life…
  • he chose instead to live a humble life and was happy to eat with sinners and the rejects of society.

Jesus was even the one who brought life into the world… Yet He was willing to let the world take his own life.

  • Jesus could have had it all,
  • But instead,
  • He decided to give it all up,
  • And live a life of humility, and service of others.

Jesus lived a life that did not fit the attitudes and culture of the world at all.

And this means that,

  • if we are to be living a life worthy of our calling,
  • then we must also live a life that follows in the steps on the one who has called us.

We can’t follow the prideful ways of the world if we are true followers of our humble leader.

It is Jesus that is the example to be followed in life.

  • Not the one of the culture in Ephesus at the time,
  • nor of our own society today.

And that means that we need to see our weaknesses…

  • Come to realize that we are not..
  • So that we live a life that depends on Him.

See, one of the things we find in the Bible is,

  • that the religious leaders talked about their own greatness,
  • and trusted not in God,
  • but themselves.

They believed that their salvation was secure because of how righteous they were…

  • Or at least how righteous they appeared,
  • and claimed to be.

Sadly,

  • These religious leaders…
  • The people who are supposed to the pointing people towards God for salvation…
  • These people could never humble themselves to actually admit their faults,
  • So they could then never come to God for help.

But the true follower of Christ does not talk about their own righteous,

  • or how great they are.
  • But instead,
  • they talk about how great Jesus is.
  • They talk about His righteous that saves us who are not worthy.

And likewise,

  • they don’t need to self promote.
  • Because if they are living for Christ then their actions will show that.

Because if a person has to remind everyone of how godly they are.

  • How wise they are.
  • How knowledgeable they are.

If they feel a need to keep telling people this because they think people just don’t see it, then it is a safe bet it’s because they don’t act it.

  • If they lived it,
  • people would see it.
  • Nothing needs to be said.
  • Because by their fruit you will know them.

And that is why we must show these other traits listed here as well, if we are to be living the life we have been called to.

  • Why it is important that those who follow Christ show these traits,
  • Even if it goes against the ways of the world.

So let’s quickly look at those things now.

  • We have looked at being humble and gentle,
  • but let’s quickly look at a few more on the list from verse 2,
  • on how people are to follow Jesus.

So the next thing is Patience… this is a virtue that should be seen in followers of Christ.

  • Being slow to anger.
  • Not rushing to have our own way.

Because the instant gratification we see in our society today is the very opposite of what it means to be patient.

By not being able to wait or say “no”,

  • That is seeking the things of this world,
  • And wanting them right away.

But…

  • Being patience is waiting for our prayers to be answered in God’s timing,
  • and waiting for the things of the next life.

Likewise, bearing with one another in love.

  • This can only be done by acknowledging the fact,
  • that none of us are perfect.
  • We all have our faults.
  • We all have our weaknesses.

But we are to live with each other’s weaknesses, just like they live with ours.

  • So this means that we don’t look for faults that can divided us.
  • And we don’t exclude those that aren’t perfect,
  • Or don’t agree with us on every point.

We love others the way Jesus loves us.

  • We follow his example in all things,
  • So we are living a life that is worthy of this salvation he has given us.

We have been called into God’s family. So we now live as one of His children.

So that’s the first thing we are looking at this morning.   

  • if we have repented of our sin…
  • and we truly believe that our sin has been forgiven by Jesus…
  • then we have a new life,
  • we are a new person.
  • And that means that this must be seen in the way we act,
  • and how we think and see the world.

We must now live a life that follows in the steps of Jesus who has called us.

Point 2: Why we live this way

Now that leads us to the second point this morning,

  • that asks the question…what does this achieve?
  • Why do all the above?

And the answer is, because this is how we get… unity!

  • This is how God’s people function.
  • This is what holds the church together,
  • And gives it its purpose for being here.

Without humility,

  • without gentleness,
  • patience,
  • and being able to bear with one another in love.
  • Without those character traits we have just looked at this morning.

Without these things then there will be no unity in the church,

  • as we will not be focused on God,
  • but on the things that drive us a part.

The cross of Christ, is the gift from God that we all share in together.

  • It brings us together,
  • as we have the one Lord,
  • and we all…
  • everyone one of us…
  • need to be saved by Him.

That is why we see here in verses 3-6,

  • how all things need to be focused on God,
  • and find their unity in him,
  • as He is what binds us all together.

It says here;  

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”

 

The spirit that we each have in us once we are saved in Christ,

  • is the same Spirt.
  • We have the one God in heaven who we worship,
  • That we are all united in.

And this means that;

  • If we are not following in the steps on Jesus,
  • then we are not making him our focus.
  • And if we look to anything else to bring us together other than him,
  • then we are looking in the wrong place.

There can only be the one thing that brings us all together. And that has to be God, and his Spirt working insides of us.

One of the things we see very clearly throughout the new testament, is how the church breaks down all social divisions because of this.

  • We see that when it comes to being a part of the body of Christ.
  • When it comes to being saved by Him…
  • And now being a part of His church…
  • His gathering of believers.
  • We see that differences that matter in this world, they do not matter in this church body.
  • Our cultural background and preferences.

These things that may divide us in this world… they mean nothing when in the body of Christ.

  • These things do not matter,
  • because we are not judged on these things.

What matters instead,

  • is that we have our faith in Jesus.
  • What matters is that we have our eyes focused on Him,
  • And we now live for him in this fallen world.

The spirit of God that we now all have, binds us all together under Christ.

  • It unites us,
  • despite the things of this world that divide us.

And that is why it is important that churches don’t lose sight of this.

  • Over recent decades,
  • churches have very much focused on aiming churches at specific demographics and cultural tastes…
  • and the danger of doing that is…
  • that the church and ministry can so quickly loose sight of what it is that binds us together.

See a group of Christians that meat together and go… for example… surfing,

  • and then after catching some waves,
  • they come back,
  • and they pray and read the bible together.

This is a fine thing to do… …but it’s not church.

If you were to limit church to that kind of meeting, then you have limited the people who can be a part of it.

  • You can’t surf… then you’re not a part of the group.
  • You don’t like surfing. Then you simply won’t go.
  • You live in Tamworth hundreds of Kilometres form the ocean… you couldn’t go even if you wanted to!

See, the thing that binds that group together is the surf first… and then God second.

Now that doesn’t mean that such a group has no purpose.

Something like that would work great as an outreach group.

  • I know friends who have run surf groups like that,
  • as a way of reaching out to people so they can hear the gospel.

They come to surf…

  • because they like surfing…
  • and then they also hear the gospel message afterwards.
  • It’s a great way to outreach.

Likewise, it’s a great way for Christians who all like to surf,

  • to hang out and have fun together
  • It helps build relationships.

But if you were to make a group like that the Sunday’s church service…

then you have simply limited the body of Christ to people who have the same taste as you.

  • There is something there that unites everyone together.
  • In this example, surfing.
  • But that means that it isn’t Christ that brings the unity to the group.

And that example can be replaced with anything.

  • When Church becomes just a music concert.
  • It’s the music that unites, not Christ.

When people come just to eat.

  • Then it’s the food that unites.
  • Not Christ.

We can use these things to bring people in.

  • We can use these things to help build relationships.
  • But we must never let these things become all that church is.

If we search for unity in anything but Christ, we will not find it.

  • Instead we will have disunity,
  • as we will seek the things of this world to bind us together.
    • Common interest.
    • Common experiences.
    • Common life styles.
    • Agreement in views and opinions.
  • And when we do that…
  • we are back to separation of culture, of age, etc.
  • and we will not have true unity in Christ.

There will not be one body in one spirit…

  • But instead,
  • There will be many bodies segregated into the things that separate us.
  • Not that one thing that unites us.

And whilst this is an easy mistake to make, it’s an even easier thing to test.

  • Lets say for example that you remove the prayer and bible reading from the surf group…
  • If you were to do that…
  • would do you still have a group?

If the answer is yes, then it was never about Jesus.

  • He was added as a part of it.
  • But it was never focused on him.
  • It was not what united people together.

How about if you remove the surfing from the surf group… do you still have a group then?

When you can remove Jesus from the group and still have a group meeting,

  • then it becomes clear that Jesus was not what brought it together in the first place.

And that same test could be done with any other group…

  • Any church service…
  • that focuses on something other than Christ to bind it together.

The test is,

  • that if it can survive without Jesus,
  • then it was never about him to begin with.

That is why we see, that God’s people, when they meet…

  • That it should be about relationships.
  • It should be about having a good time together.
  • But what it must be…
  • What it has to be…
  • Is Jesus as the focus of it all.

Only when everyone is meeting for him,

  • and following in his footsteps…
  • only then can the body truly have unity.

 

Conclusion

 

So to finish up today. There are a few quick points to remember.

Firstly, remember the unity we have in spirit.

  • The natural human thing to do,
  • is to look at what divides us,
  • not what unites us.

We are by our sinful nature, tribal. We seek out those who we share things with in common.

  • Every war,
  • every argument between groups…
  • it usually always comes down to finding those who we are like,
  • and fighting those who are different.

The unity we are to have is not common interest.

  • Its not being a part of a similar demographic.
  • Its not just those who we agree with.
  • Its through the spirit that binds us together.

We must remember that the thing that brings us together is not of this world.

  • It is something that no other group in civilization can compare itself to.
  • What binds the church together is God’s spirit in us,
  • and working through this body,
  • to keep our focus on Jesus.

Which is the second point… focus on Christ.

What divides churches is when Christ no longer becomes the focus of the body.

  • When a theme or interest becomes more important that Jesus himself,
  • or when we let the things of this world become what binds us,
  • then it is easy for these things to also divide us.

But if we each make Jesus our focus in life…

  • And that means not just on a Sunday morning…
  • But all aspects of our life,
  • all day.

When we are humble,

  • and bearing with one another in love and understanding,
  • then we won’t be putting ourselves forward,
  • but be serving one another.

And when we are then living like Christ,

  • we will not let the things of this world divide us,
  • as we will all be living for him,
  • and not ourselves.

But one last point this morning.

  • Be a peace maker,
  • but don’t live in denial.

See when we see a verse like verse 3;

“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

A big mistake is to think that peace comes from agreement.

That unity can only happen when everyone is on the same page… on all matters.

  • And that can then lead to either covering up disagreement,
  • or simply getting rid of anyone who does disagree.

But true unity cannot come from pretending the issue isn’t there.

  • Instead,
  • it must be discussed and dealt with,
  • otherwise the unity is not real.

Politeness is the easiest way to destroy a church. Everyone bottling it up until it eventually explodes.

  • But there is no unity if everyone is faking it.
  • Just because everyone smiles at each other does not mean there is unity in the body.

Likewise,

  • there cannot be unity,
  • if the attitude is that everyone has to agree or get out.

Some of the biggest divisions can be created in the name of unity.

  • But the real and true unity we are to have is being one in Christ,
  • not one in opinion or method.

Peace can only come from remembering what it is, that binds us all together.

  • The fact that as a body…
  • we are one is spirit…
  • as we live for God,
  • and him alone.

Only when we remember that,

  • will there be peace in the body,
  • as the body will be truly united in Christ.

So with all that in mind, let’s now finish by praying for these things.


Tamworth Community Presbyterian Church
EMAIL: minister@TCPC.org.au
PH: 02 6765 2865