When I was a little boy in Lubbock, Texas, I remember laying on my cousin’s trampoline at night and looking up at all of the stars. Lubbock, West Texas, is just about a desert and the skies are clear. The most beautiful sunrises, sunsets, and clear midnight stars are the norm. They were beautiful. It was like the whole sky was covered with black felt and tiny holes everyone allowed the light of Heaven to come through. Of course, my childlike idea of the universe does not ring true, but the truth might be more amazing that my little mind could conceive. We live in a galaxy called the Milky Way. It is estimated that within our galaxy there are 200-400 billion stars like the sun. Wow!!!! And what is more crazy, according to NASA, many galaxies are larger than the Milky Way such as a the neighboring Andromeda galaxy. But hold on to your pants, the Hubble Telescope has allowed scientists to see so many galaxies. They estimate the number of galaxies in the billions. I can’t even do the math do figure out how many stars existing in all of Creation. And God placed each one. He named each one (Psalm 147:4). Scientist will tell us that the objects in space are being held up by some force that they cannot define. Of course, we know that force to be the Lord God Almighty. He is holding each of these starts in place all of the time. And starts are but one tiny element of Creation and He hold all things together (Colossians 1:17).
The point is that we have a big God. In Ephesians, Paul prays that we would be filled to the full measure of God (Ephesians 3:19). Let that sink in for minute. The word for ‘fill’ in this Scripture means to cram. God wants to cram His full presence into us. The same God who places, holds, and names billions upon billions of stars in place wants to cram His entire being into our Spirit that we might have a communion that is truly out of this world (pardon the pun 😊). The stars are reflective of His glory. They testify to His power. And let me just say that all that God does in Creation is easy for Him and as easy as He holds all things together, so He can hold our life together if we will allow Him to fully cram His presence into our spirit, full communion.
Of course, this is beyond human comprehension and Paul attempts to help us understand. He reminds us in the first chapter of Ephesians that the full presence of God was in Christ. Jesus chose to live as a man. He was all human. Yet at the same time, He was filled, crammed, with all of the presence of God. This gives us a picture of what life would be like. Life would not be easy. There is no one who can look at the life of Christ and say that it was easy. And it was not easy for those around Him either beginning with Mary, who was an unwed teenager in a culture that stones such women. One of his closest friend betrayed him and the rest were martyred save John who was exiled to island to live out his days in solitude. But in the middle of all of the problems, there were miracles, great miracles. Peoples lives were changed. Society was changed, the whole world was changed. And isn’t this what makes life full=to make a positive impact on society. We can live for our own wealth, our own possessions, but at the end of life, how empty our life would be to have a storehouse full of possessions, but not one single life changed. I don’t want to be rich. I want to have a rich life. How about you?
Paul continues his discourse in Ephesians explaining how it is possible for the full presence of God to be crammed into us for power, love, and world change. He says that Jesus is filled completely with the presence of God, and that we are the body of Christ. We, the church, are the body of Jesus Christ who is then the fullness of God. Experiencing the full measure of God can only come through Jesus Christ, but the full measure of Christ can only be experienced through the church. The church is where the fullness of God can be found. We will never be fully crammed with all of the presence of God if we are absent from the church.
I don’t mean the Sunday morning services though they are part of it. I am talking about the interaction, living out of our faith, with one another encouraging one another, spurring one another on to greater faith, knowledge, and works, holding one another accountable, and supporting one another in times of distress. This is the church. Together, we help one another move to a higher volume of God in our spirit.
At the same time, you can be at every single church activity and still never be part of the church. The true church encourages, inspires, reveals salvation, evangelizes, loves, prays, worships, and holds tight to Jesus Christ. The power of God is in this. And this is why the church is always under attack. The enemy is always trying to cause us to get disappointed with the church. This is why the enemy loves to foster division and discord. We must fight against this.
The same God who knows the names and location of billions upon billions of stars, holding them in place, knows your name. He knows your issues. He knows what you need. He knows where you hurt. And He wants to fill you with all of His love, His peace, His health and healing, His wisdom and knowledge, His power and glory. What would life be like if we allowed the Lord to do this? But it will never happen if we take church like any other hobby. If church is what Paul says it is, how can we place it at the same level as all of our other activities in this life. Church is important. The power of God in us manifests through church life. Oh…well you are just a preacher and you want people to come to church! Yes, you are right, I want everyone to go to church, to be involved in the church with the right spirit because I want them to experience all of God and I want the world to experience all of God. So, yeah, that is what I want and I won’t apologize for that.
We must be involved in the church. We must worship. We must pray. We must teach. We must preach. We must seek. We must study His Word. We must change the world.
Ephesians 3:14 - 4:13
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 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.
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says:
“When he ascended on high,
he took many captives
and gave gifts to his people.”
(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (NIV)
Lord, how many times have I sabotaged your plan for my life by pushing You out of my spirit just long enough to sin. Then I hate myself for it. I want to be filled with all of Your glory. I want to know You deeply and hear You sweetly in my heart. Lord, the idea that the church is the fullness of You is sometimes hard because there is discord and insincerity sometimes. Teach me to love the church for what it can be and help me to be a part of making it what You desire that my life would be changed and the lives of many would be changed forever by Your Holy Spirit and the work of Jesus Christ. -Amen.