How Big is Your Church?
Gracious God, Your Word is a lamp to my feet and the glue that holds the universe in place. How great You are.
Read EPHESIANS 1:15–23
15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
God’s desire is for great things to happen in and through your church.
Often prayers about our church run along certain grooves: a list of sick and needy, certain key events and projects, missionaries. Leaders are likely to focus on organizational matters too—that the church will grow in numbers and the budget be met. Of course, it’s natural and appropriate to concentrate on the local concerns. Yet if this is all we do it leads to small-minded churches, preoccupied with their own plans—locked into the small picture.
Consider how different is Paul’s prayer for the church. It is about becoming large-minded churches, preoccupied with God’s future plans. Note how it is drenched in thanksgiving—beginning with the love for the saints (15,16). We should always be glass-half- full about the church! The heart of this prayer is not about organizational needs but about receiving the “Spirit of wisdom and revelation” (17) so that the church may know God better and, with richer understanding and experience of his resurrection power, grasp more of God’s immense purpose for his church. This is about living hope (18). Just as the risen Christ has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18), so his church is intimately united in God’s plan for the ultimate conclusion for his creation.
Paul’s prayer for the church is incredibly future-oriented.
Theologians call this “eschatological” (doctrine of the last things). Elsewhere, we read of Jesus being head of everything when “every knee should bow” (Phil. 2:10,11). Here, extraordinarily, the church has a key role with Christ who will be head of everything.
When a church concentrates only on immediate needs it is in danger of missing out on God’s future for the church universal. With a local focus, pettiness and discouragement can dominate. But pray like Paul’s prayer and even the smallest group of believers is caught up by a majestic vision of God’s power for living.
Do you know any new Christians who need to grow? Any established Christians who need a nudge to grow? How can you help them?
Merciful Father, open the eyes of my heart, that I may see how great is Your inheritance, and how rich and privileged I am.
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