Intro: How many of you different than everyone else?
But how many of you have learned how powerful it is when you get connected to others not just like you??
At the end of ch. 3 Paul talks about how “God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.” (Eph. 3:20-21)
“to ACCOMPLISH infinitely more…” HOW DOES GOD DO THIS? “through his mighty power at WORK within us…” “Glory to him IN the church…” In and through the Church! It really is a synergy thing.
That we accomplish more together than we do apart! The POWER of COMMUNITY, TEAM, THE CHURCH!!
EASTER (invite others!!!)- reminds us that we, the Church, are the multiplied, manifested ministry of Jesus in the world!!!
We are chosen to belong to something significantly bigger than ourselves!
Paul unpacks 4 CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CHURCH that is the fuel to Eph. 3:20-21 happening!
In Pt. 2- Characteristic of UNITY- more than just agreement, but alignment of what we believe with how we behave: credibility!
CHARACTERIZED by DIVERSITY. Eph. 4:7-11
The subject of diversity was a big issue in Paul’s life- the “Apostle to the Gentiles” – meaning not Jews. Paul uses illustrations like the “church is a body with many parts; different parts, but all making one body!”
SHARE STORY… Bethel, exclusively white, upper middle class church. Retooled our mission to be a refection of our community… BE DIVERSE!
Paul wants the Gentiles to know that every person has value and is essential to the “Body of Christ!” ONE BODY, MANY PARTS! Each of us make the “Body” what it is- a beautiful, multifaceted, integration of people, called by God, unified and working in glorious harmony, synergy, to see “more accomplished than we could ask or think!”
And that’s why, diversity, “variety, multiformity”, is essential to the purpose of the church.
THE COMMUNITY OF FAITH SHOULD BE THE PERFECT PICTURE OF DIVERSITY!! WHY?
BECAUSE LOVE SAVES US AND LOVE OF OTHERS SHOWS THE WORLD WHO JESUS IS! CHOSEN TO BELONG- LOVE DOES THAT FOR ALL OF US, ANY OF US!!
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” ― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom
Jesus didn’t simply save us from sin, He saved each one of us for service! Because serving others IS what saves us from ourselves!
That happens when we embrace DIVERSITY. Because it’s a mark of God!
Think of it this way: we are gifted with salvation… In turn we become a gift to others… To bring redemption, reconciliation, restoration… You are gifted for service in and through the church, and the church is gifted by your service.
Essentially Christ has gifted the church with you and through you to accomplish our mission to reach people who are far from God and raise, resource, and release them as true followers/disciples of Jesus!
SO WE MUST EMBRACE and CELEBRATE DIVERSITY WHICH IS SEEING EVERY PERSON AS GIFTED AND EVERY PERSON AS A GIFT!
FIRST: Christ has GIFTED You.
Eph. 4:7-10 “However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ. 8 That is why the Scriptures say, “When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.” 9 Notice that it says “he ascended.” This clearly means that Christ also descended to our lowly world. 10 And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself.”
“…he has given each one of us a special gift…”
Paul notes 3 GIFTS LISTS in his letters (We won’t unpack these today):
1Cor. 12:4-6 (NCV) “4 There are different kinds of gifts, but they are all from the same Spirit. 5 There are different ways to serve but the same Lord to serve. 6 And there are different ways that God works through people but the same God. God works in all of us in everything we do.”
Motivational Gifts: “ . . . Diversity of gifts . . .” (I Corinthians 12:4). How God works in a believer to shape his perspective on life and motivate his words and actions. (See Romans 12:3–8.)
Ministry Gifts: “ . . . Diversity of service . . .” (I Corinthians 12:5). How God works with what a believer does to serve and meet the needs of others. (See Ephesians 4:11–13 and I Corinthians 12:27–31.)
Manifestation Gifts: “ . . . Diversity of operations . . .” (I Corinthians 12:6). How God works through a believer in a given situation to demonstrate His supernatural power. (See I Corinthians 12:7–11.)
GIFT ASSESSMENT: SERVE KIOSK or ONLINE: weallneedgrace.com “RESOURCE” tab…
Paul tells the Ephesians that each one of them has been individually and specifically gifted by Jesus for service. Because again, church is not a “place” where I SPECTATE, church is people I SERVE!
YES, it goes against the cultural bend towards consumerism and and calls me to contribute- it’s how God’s economy works; it’s how God’s provision and reciprocation works! I am gifted to give. I am saved to serve. I am an essential part of something significantly bigger than myself.
It’s how Eph. 3:20 works- “God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” (I’ll add) through us!
Each person in this room has been gifted by God!
Notice too: “When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and GAVE GIFTS TO HIS PEOPLE…”
Paul is citing Psalms 68:18 “When you ascended to the heights, you led a crowd of captives. You received gifts from the people, even from those who rebelled against you. Now the Lord God will live among us there.”
That Jesus, having conquered sin, death, hell, and the grave, has received all the spoils of his victory, and rather than keeping them for himself, has distributed them back to his people for facilitating the purpose/work of the church.
Jesus came down to redeem us and rose up (EASTER) to resource us! IT’S THE MISSION OF THE CHURCH THAT MATTERS!!- To reach people who are far from God so they encounter the life-transforming power of Jesus Christ! Multiplied, Manifested, Ministry of Jesus!!
SECOND: The Church is GIFTED. 4:11
“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.”
Paul next talks about 5 very distinctive “Ministry Gifts” of Leadership that primarily “equip” for the work of the ministry (talk about this in Pt. 4)!
Also, you can picture these “5 Ministry Gifts” as “5 Influences or Streams or Factors” at work in the church. And that’s vitally important!!
The MINISTRY Gifts List. You WILL be attracted to one of these more than the others!
Apostle/Apostolic– Extend the gospel. As the “sent ones,” they ensure that the faith is transmitted from one context to another and from one generation to the next. They are always thinking about the future, bridging barriers, establishing the church in new contexts, developing leaders, networking trans-locally. Yes, if you focus solely on initiating new ideas and rapid expansion, you can leave people and organizations wounded. The shepherding and teaching functions are needed to ensure people are cared for rather than simply used.
Prophet/Prophetic– Know God’s will. They are particularly attuned to God and his truth for today. They bring correction and challenge the dominant assumptions we inherit from the culture. They insist that the community obey what God has commanded. They question the status quo. Without the other types of leaders in place, prophets can become belligerent activists or, paradoxically, disengage from the imperfection of reality and become other-worldly.
Evangelist/Evangelistic– They recruit. These infectious communicators of the gospel message recruit others to the cause. They call for a personal response to God’s redemption in Christ, and also draw believers to engage the wider mission, growing the church. Evangelists can be so focused on reaching those outside the church that maturing and strengthening those inside is neglected.
Pastor/Pastoral– Nurture and protect. Caregivers of the community, they focus on the protection and spiritual maturity of God’s flock, cultivating a loving and spiritually mature network of relationships, making and developing disciples. Shepherds can value stability to the detriment of the mission. They may also foster an unhealthy dependence between the church and themselves.
Teacher/Teaching– Understand and explain. Communicators of God’s truth and wisdom, they help others remain biblically grounded to better discern God’s will, guiding others toward wisdom, helping the community remain faithful to Christ’s word, and constructing a transferable doctrine. Without the input of the other functions, teachers can fall into dogmatism or dry intellectualism. They may fail to see the personal or missional aspects of the church’s ministry.
For more information from APEST Model go to: http://www.theforgottenways.org/apest/
So, God GIFTS YOU and YOU GIFT the CHURCH! CONSIDER THESE QUESTIONS: (Write on flip board)
Do you love to GOVERN and lead? Some of you are VISIONARIES/ENTREPRENEURS. You may be more APOSTOLIC!
Do you love to GUIDE and bring perspective? Some of you are INTUITIVE and ACTIVISTS for CAUSES. You may be more PROPHETIC!
Do you love to GATHER and bring people together? Some of you are RECRUITERS/MOTIVATORS. You may be more EVANGELISTIC!
Do you love to GUARD and care for others? Some of you are COMFORTERS/COUNSELORS. You may be more PASTORAL!
Do you love to GROW and help others learn? Some of you are EDUCATORS/EQUIPPERS. You may be more of a TEACHER!
ALL OF YOU ARE AN INTEGRAL PART OF SOMETHING SIGNIFICANTLY BIGGER THAN YOURSELF! Not independent, but interdependent. Not with uniformity, but with unity. Not identical, but diverse. YET, all made in the image of, and gifted by Christ!
WE ARE HIS BODY… to BUILD his kingdom by offering ourselves to CHRIST to fulfill his CAUSE.
Rom. 12:1-6 “ And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. 3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. 4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. 6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well.”
St. Teresa of Avila: ”Christ has no body but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes with which he looks Compassion on this world, yours are the feet with which he walks to do good, yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours, yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”