Friday, March 29, 2013

Just as Christ loved the church...

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It's so easy to miss.

The fifth chapter of Ephesians is typically invoked by people who want to talk about roles of husband and wife in marriage.  (I love what it says about marriage, though I don't always agree with the way it's interpreted.)

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But then the apostle Paul slips this in:

"This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church."

It's Holy Week.  This year as I think about what Christ has done for us, my heart has been filled with his love for the church.  My own church is halfway into a year or more of searching for a pastor--for our future.  I love my church almost as though it were my own flesh and blood.  It is not a building, it is a family, a "body", of which Christ is the head, a body full of people whose presence in my life is more powerful than I can say.  And this body is a little weary.  We have been without our much beloved pastor for awhile, and we are still far from the arrival of the next.  It's a healthy, cleansing season.  God has cared for us beautifully in the process, but that doesn't make it easy.

This year I am thankful that when Jesus was praying right before he was crucified (John 17), he prayed for the church.  Here's how he prayed to his heavenly Father:

...that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.
...not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.
...Sanctify them (make them distinct from the world) by the truth; your word is truth.
...that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
...Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

I have sensed his invitation to me this week to join him there and allow him to make his prayer my own.

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I love how Paul reflects on what Christ's sacrifice meant for the church in Ephesians 5:

...Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  The church submits to Christ.

...Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

...he feeds and cares for the church, for we are members of his body.

Amen.  Make it so, Lord Jesus.  In your greater church.  In my church.

2 comments:

Deanna said...

Happy & blessed Easter, Tracy!!

Life with Kaishon said...

I love how much you love your church. And even more, I love how much you love Jesus. You are an inspiration.