Thursday, 22 March 2018

Wake Up to Who is our Head

Ephesians chapter 1 makes great reading, packed with all kinds of goodies that make a rich and dense introduction to the letter. It builds to the risen and ascended Jesus, far above all rule, authority, power and dominion (in other words: everything!). Whether now or the future all things are under his feet. You don't get much more superlative than that!

Yet amongst all that incredible greatness - and it is mind-blowingly incredible, we can miss an important detail that should change the way we see ourselves as a group of believers (i.e. a church).

For in v22-23 at its peak Paul writes '(and God) appointed him to be head over everything for the church ...' (NIV translation). Its the 'for the church' that struck me.

First its hard to make sense of it. Surely God was going to make Jesus above all and head over all things anyway, church or no church. Jesus deserves this status and is given it full stop. God doesn't see the church and then think 'Oh I know, I'll give Jesus authority over all - it will be a good thing for the church ...'. The NLT translation almost conveys this thought ('for the benefit of the church')!

So with a little digging the Greek wording used can mean 'given' (or even possibly betrothed), so the sentence might read something like 'God gave him as head over all to the church'.

Now we know (from these same verses and elsewhere) that the church is his body on earth, and Jesus is the head of that body. So the thing I think these verses call us to realise is that we as the church don't just have any old head as our head, we have the head, the one who is head over all with everything else subordinate to it.

Or to put it another way, as a church we relate straight to the top!

So let us wake up to who we are (as a church) - we are those that relate straight to Him who is head over all, everything else under his feet, whether rule, authority, power and dominion now and future etc. etc.!

That should kind of influence how we pray as a church shouldn't it?

In a bind or up against malevolent rule or authority in any way? Then lets to the head who is already head over those things.

Frustrated with any kind of oppressed spiritual atmosphere or anything what we perceive gets in the way? Then lets to the head who is already head over those things.

... and so on. Let us wake up to who is our head, given to us who are his body on earth, and pray accordingly!

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Identity Crises

Identity crises and/or a lack of confidence of who we are seems to be a widespread issue for many people these days. Young people with a range of anxieties, adults struggling too. Even many Christians seem to have trouble accepting that they can find their true identity in Christ - which surely hampers them in their everyday lives as well as their discipleship.

For me Jewish rabbi Jonathan Sacks puts it brilliantly when he says 'The face that is truly ours is the one we see reflected back at us by God' (Not in God's Name, p138). He asserts that this is the meaning of the Aaronic blessing 'May God turn His face towards you and grant you peace' (Numbers 6:26).

On this logic, discovering ourselves therefore lies in gazing on God, and discovering that He is gazing on us. In that way our faith and salvation is more than a mere transaction. It is an intense and prolonged look into the one who created us, the who who has died for us, the one who now lives and intercedes for us ... and realising the 'for us' is not some doctrine that is generically applied, but is actually personal and direct to you as an individual fearfully and wonderfully made.

Mary was struck by this personal significance when in the garden outside the tomb (John 20). At first she looked at Jesus without realising who he was. It took just one word: "Mary", for her to look again and realise. Jesus was looking at her, and called her by name. Immediately she was affirmed and could walk away confident.

Let us invest ourselves in gazing on God. The return gaze will change us for ever.