Series: Grounded in Love
Message: Our Church
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Mark Witas
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Jenniffer Ogden
Live Beyond: Andrew Jones
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Ephesians 3:1-21 in The Message (MSG). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Ephesians, 3:10 says, “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.”
Everything has a purpose. I think. Maybe not Brussels sprouts. But everything else has a purpose. Or at least everything should have a purpose. Often, when an agent of purpose is removed, a disruption can happen that becomes a detrimental domino effect. This is evidenced when humans over-interfere in the animal kingdom.
If humans kill all the wolves/coyotes in a given area, rodents/pests increase and deer herds become sickly and/or ruin the landscape. Wolves and coyotes serve a purpose. If bees die, we get no fruit, or flowers, or honey. Bees have a purpose.
People have purposes too. Paul says in another book that everyone serves as an anatomical part in the body of Christ. There are eyes and ears and fingers and eyeballs. There are some armpits too. I’ve met them. But they are important and serve a purpose.
Have you ever thought about the purpose of the church? Your church? Paul suggests in the text given at the beginning of this reflection that the church exists to reveal something very important to the universe. It’s supposed to reveal a mystery— something that has, until Christ, been hidden. So what has been hidden? What was Christ’s purpose and how did He reveal what it is? Something that He now wants the church to reveal? Consider these verses—
John 17:3–6: “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.
Notice the work (purpose) that God gave Jesus to do. It’s found in the words in Verse 6: to reveal the Father to His church so that we could reveal the Father to the world. Jesus said, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”
How is this done? Jesus sums it up with the only command He gave His disciples in His last hours on earth: “By this the world will know (will have revealed to them) that you are My disciples, that you love one another.”
The mystery of the Father is revealed to the world, and according to Paul, to authorities outside of this world, when we learn to love each other. This is the primary purpose of the church, to show the universe that God’s love wins over jealousy, malice, greed, selfishness, and pride—and everything else counter to the Kingdom of Christ.
The church has a purpose. You have a purpose as a part of God’s church. Let’s make sure our purpose is being fulfilled, so the world might see the glory of God.
Recalibrate: Why do you think it’s so important to have Jesus be the final definition of who the Father truly is?
Respond: Take time to meditate on Jesus on the cross. Thank Him for His selfless love.
Research: Here’s an interesting article on purpose.
Remember: “The heavenly world will know God’s wisdom” (Ephesians 3:10, ICB).
Mark Witas is the lead pastor for the Sunnyside Seventh-day Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon. He is a regular contributor to the Daily Walk.
Play a game of Copy Cat with your little one. Poke out your tongue and see if they copy you. Shake your hands and see if they copy you. Wiggle your fingers and see if they copy you. Our children learn by watching everything we do. A friend told me the other day that while she was carrying her little one up three flights of stairs she noticed that her one-year-old was puffing too. Live love well today—this is how your little one sees who God is.
When I was young, my big brother and I did everything together. We played games, made forts, created games, and tormented our baby sister. We would hide from her, find a way to make sure she didn’t understand what we were playing, and were generally not very nice. She rarely felt included in the fun.Maybe you know what it is like to be excluded from something fun or interesting. You may know what it is to watch others play and have a great time, and you only get to watch or hear about it later. Think about friends at school that may not be included and do what you can to be sure that they know they are welcome and can join the fun. Like God and Abram we can make the place we live wonderful by including others.
It’s OK to mess up. That may not be a phrase you hear very often. In school, our very best is expected of us. At home, parents want us to always do what’s right. I remember when I messed up big time. My friends in school were making fun of the new kid and I decided to join in. I don’t know why I did, but I said some pretty hurtful things. I lay awake at night thinking about what I had said and I was filled with shame and regret. I prayed to God asking for forgiveness but I knew He would want me to make things right. Apologizing to the boy was one of the hardest things I’ve done but I’m very glad I did. It turns out, he was a cool guy! We actually became good friends after that. It’s OK to mess up, as long as you make things right.
When I was 13, my parents decided to build a shed in our backyard. When it was all finished, it needed to be trimmed and painted. So my parents enlisted my little sister and me as cheap laborers to help them paint the house. My sister and I are by no means expert painters; we had no idea what we were doing! But my parents wanted to use us. They wanted to teach us this skill and to also use this as a time to bond with us. God has this insane desire to use you too. You may not have all the “skills” or “talents” that you may think you need, but know that all God wants is a willing heart. He wants to reveal Himself and His reckless love to the world through you. No matter what your race is, your gender, denomination, or age, He wants you. And a simple way to be used by Him is to love others and to intentionally see others as children of God. What are some ways that God can use you in your context? Is God calling you to do something? I challenge you today to say “yes” to His still small voice.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development groups. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jenniffer Ogden serves as the children and family pastor at the Walla Walla University Church in College Place, Washington.
Andrew Jones teaches grades seven and eight at Vista Ridge Academy in Erie, Colorado. He is originally from Oregon and attends Boulder Church.
Emily Ellis is a junior studying theology at Walla Walla University and interning at the Eastgate Seventh-day Adventist Church.