If you could ask God to bless your church in three ways, what would you seek? I can come up with a pretty full list. The worldly side of me would like more property, more space, more resources, more curriculum, more staff; more, more, more…
Ephesians 1:16-23 records a prayer the Apostle Paul made for the church in Ephesus. In this prayer Paul asks God to bless the Ephesians with three things.
What Paul asks for is very different from my list. My list includes some very worldly things designed to bring more people through the door. It’s not a bad list and certainly more people coming through the church doors is a wonderful thing. I was a little off the mark, though. There are things more important than programs and facilities, staff members and books. The church is about people and their relationship with God.
Paul asks God to give the Ephesians knowledge, a confident hope, and an understanding of God’s power.
Paul wanted the Ephesians to know God. This is not just a conglomeration of facts and statistics about God but an understanding of Him based on personal experience. I can learn every statistic about my favorite football player and still not really know him personally. Knowing about a person and actually knowing someone are two very different things. Paul wants the Ephesians, and us, to have a personal understanding of God based on a life lived in His Presence.
He also wanted them to have a confident hope. God wants to shine His love into our hearts, according to these verses. The light of His love gives us confidence. We can have confidence because His light guides us, dispels the darkness of fear, and warms us like the glow of the sun on a beautiful summer’s day. We never have to live with fear because God’s love provides a light that dispels any darkness we face.
Finally, Paul asks God to give the Ephesians an understanding of the power at work inside them. God’s power, the power that raised Jesus from the dead, set the sun alight, created the oceans, and forged the mountains, is at work in the lives of every believer and every Church that listens to His Will. It is at work both for our benefit and to help us do good things in the name of Jesus.
The Church is about people and helping them understand the greatness of God’s love for them, the confidence He can give through hope, and the power working both for us and through us to do good. I’ve been praying every day this week for God to give the Church these three things. I encourage you to join me!
Rob Morton is minister of First Christian Church Middlesboro. Contact him at [email protected]