Ephesians Online: Identity, Purpose, & Place
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Crops of Corn, Soybean, Mustard, and Fields of Hay
We've been walking through the book of Ephesians chapter by chapter. This past weekend, we took what may have felt like a little detour or pause to look at our anchor verse for this series, made for more.
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.
My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
We wanted to try to fully grasp what this abundant life is, this rich and satisfying life that Christ gives us. We did this by looking at the first part of that verse; we focused on what, or rather who, Jesus contrasts Himself with: the thief.
In doing so we get a look at a larger picture of what is happening in the world and in our lives. Jesus came to give life, life that is more than we can fully understand. The thief came to thwart that ... prevent that ... wreck that ... destroy that. The thief does this by distorting our identity, distracting us from our purpose, and downplaying our place in this world.
When I think about what we've been doing - walking through each chapter - and then taking a moment this past weekend to look at our anchor verse it reminds me of the state of Illinois. Illinois is mostly a flat state save for some gorgeous hills and bluffs in the north and south of the state and along the Mighty Mississippi.
It can feel like the rows of corn can go on for miles. And they do.
That's what we've been doing with each chapter. Taking a close look at rows of "spiritual corn" if you will.
But if you take an airplane ride above the state of Illinois you see there is so much more than just corn. You see a landscape that looks almost like a patchwork quilt with swatches of golden corn, flaxen hay, green soybeans, and yellow mustard. It's gorgeous. And you realize just how big the state is and how all those crops are tied together.
That's what we hope you catch this week. That you see what Paul sees as he writes his letter to the followers of Jesus in Ephesus. Everything he tells them about what God is doing through Christ (chapters 1-3) and everything he tells them about how they should then live in light of that (chapters 4-6) is connected to this larger picture.
This breathtaking picture of identity, mission, and place. This new reality is found in Christ. The life He gives and gives abundantly.
Let's Talk ...
What positive labels or identities do you have (brother/sister, mother/father, employer/employee, child/parent, retired, professional, college grad, athletic, talented, hard worker, etc.)?
What labels or identities do you have that can be negative (loud/reserved, uneducated, failure, widow, divorced, guilty, overweight, skinny, lazy, etc.)?
What would it look like in your life for both the positive and negative labels/identities to submit to your primary identity as a follower of Christ?
Where do you struggle to let your identity Christ trump other labels/identities?
Read Galatians 3:29-29. When people come to Christ they don't stop having a gender or no longer possess a nationality. What does it mean that in Christ the labels we have no longer exist in the way they did prior to our knowing Christ?
Mission & Place
Read John 17:9-19. What does it mean to be "of this world" or "not of this world"?
Look at verse 18. How does Jesus say He is sending the disciples?
Why was Jesus sent and how was Jesus sent?
If we are to be sent in the same way, what would that look like?
Read Ephesians 2:19-22. What purpose does a temple provide? What services does it offer?
How do we, as individuals followers reflecting Christ, and we, as the church as a whole, serve as a temple in the world?
Why does God care so much about this world?
Do you care about this world? What does it look like to care about this world?
This week we want to really encourage you to answer the questions below and reach out to someone and share your answers with someone.
What is the Holy Spirit saying to you?
What do you need to do about it?
How can others help you follow through?