Church Is Not What We Do

What becomes most clear is that “church is not what we do; it is what God does, although we participate in it.”

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Today is Friday, June 23, 2017. Day 21,652.

“What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” ~ Helen Keller
BrainyQuotes

The word of the day is cacoepy, a noun meaning, “incorrect pronunciation or an instance of this; mispronunciation (opposed to orthoepy).”

Today is Let It Go Day. Good day for that.

It’s going to be busy weekend. We have the viewing at the funeral home tonight, the funeral tomorrow, and then we have Night of Worship tomorrow evening. At least the NoW is going to be totally acoustic, so there won’t be any set up or sound checks or anything like that. Still, it’s going to be a long, wearisome day. Hopefully, we will have some opportunity to rest on Sunday afternoon.

The good news is that we only have one more week before our July 4 holiday, and I’m taking off July 3, as well, for a four-day-weekend.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

(From The Divine Hours)

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Psalm 34:8
Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
Psalm 71:3
But I, O LORD, cry to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Psalm 88:13
Jesus taught us saying, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 
Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 
he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 
But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

Luke 6:46-49

(From Practice Resurrection)

“Ephesians is a revelation of the church we never see.” This unique book shows us the “root system” of the church, the “operations of the Trinity” out of which what we can see grows. It doesn’t show us the imperfections or the different expressions of church that become cathedrals, outdoor revival tents, or storefront missions. “Rather, it is an inside look at what is beneath and behind and within the church that we do see wherever and whenever it becomes visible.”

The church at Ephesus was established by a guy named Apollos. We see his name a few times in Acts. Paul stopped by to visit and wound up staying three years, dealing with various issues along the way.

Later on, Ephesus was attached to this letter “that provides our best access to what is involved in the formation of church.” It doesn’t show us how the church appears on our cities and villages, but “the essence that is behind the appearances: God’s will, Christ’s presence, the Holy Spirit’s work.” Peterson says that Ephesians is “the only writing in the New Testament that provides us with such a detailed and lively account of the inside and underground workings of the complex and various profusion of ‘churches’ that we encounter and try to make sense of.”

Of all the letters in the New Testament, to all of the other various churches and pastors, Ephesians is the only one that is not provoked by a problem. I wasn’t aware of this until I read this book.

We have all heard, more than likely, some well-meaning person say that we need to get back to the way the “early church” was. Peterson’s response to this is, “Heaven help us. These churches were a mess, and Paul wrote his letters to try to clean up the mess.”

However, the purpose of Ephesians is not to clean up any messes. Rather, it explores “God’s glory that gives the church its unique identity.” It also makes it clear to us that we cannot comprehend this on our own, each Christian picking out his favorite thing, “cafeteria style,” but that we must do this together, as a community, “a congregation of Christians who sit down at table together and receive in gratitude what is prepared and served to us by our Lord, the Spirit.”

What becomes most clear is that “church is not what we do; it is what God does, although we participate in it.”

We do not ever see the church “whole and complete.” This letter to Ephesus gives us an understanding of what church looks like from the inside, “the hidden foundations and structural elements that provide grounding and form to the people, whoever they are, and the place, wherever it is.”

This letter is not an example of the “perfect church,” that we are supposed to imitate (and get frustrated when we can’t do it). “Rather, we read Ephesians as the revelation of all the operations of the Triune God that are foundational beneath what is visible among us and at work throughout each congregation. This is what makes us what we are, however imperfectly or neurotically we happen to be living it out.”

Father, give us more understanding of this thing called church, and how it supposed to work. Teach us your ways, that we may walk in your truth.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Grace and peace, friends.

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