Daily Lent Devotional #29 (4/06/2011)

Ephesians 5: 1-2, 25-32

1 “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God…

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.”

I grew up in the New Brighton Free Methodist Church and have never actively attended anywhere else.  I served as a Youth Leader throughout my time in high school.  After graduating, I soon took over as the church’s Youth Ministry Director.  I enjoy working with teenagers and was blessed to serve in that ministry position for 10 years.  Shortly after stepping down from that role (feeling that I needed to be freed up to serve in some other “bigger” ministry ways), God surprised me by calling me to fill the vacant Pastor position at NBFMC.  So, needless to say, I’m a bit partial in my advocating for the benefits of “church life”.  🙂

Building off of yesterday’s devotional, I’m going to share some more thoughts today on the role and purpose of the church from author Henri Nouwen.  May you come to fully embrace the idea that (as preacher Charles Spurgeon said it) that the local church is “the dearest place on earth.”

Jesus is the Christ appearing among us to reveal God’s love, and the Church is His people called together to make His presence visible in today’s world. Would we have recognized Jesus as the Christ if we had met Him many years ago? Are we able to recognize Him today in His body, the Church?

The Church is the people of God. The Latin word for “church,” ecclesia, comes from the Greek ek, which means “out” and kaleo, which means “to call.” The Church is the people of God called out of slavery to freedom, sin to salvation, despair to hope, darkness to light, an existence centered on death to an existence focused on life.

The Church as the body of Christ has many faces. The Church prays and worships. It speaks words of instruction and healing, cleanses us from our sins, invites us to the table of the Lord, binds us together in a covenant of love, sends us out to minister, anoints us when we are sick or dying, and accompanies us in our search for meaning and our daily need for support. All these faces might not come to us from those we look up to as our leaders. But when we live our lives with a simple trust that Jesus comes to us in our Church, we will see the Church’s ministry in places and in faces where we least expect it.  If we truly love Jesus, Jesus will send the people to give us what we most need.  When we think of the Church we have to think of a body of people, traveling together. We have to envision women, men, and children of all ages, races, and societies supporting one another on their long and often tiresome journeys to their final home.

Blessings,

Pastor Josh

Published in: on April 6, 2011 at 6:00 AM  Leave a Comment  
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