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September 10, 2017

Love Together

Community begins with our love for others and that love is self-sacrificing, not self-serving. Think about this as you listen or read.

Mike Gerhardt, September 10, 2017, Community – Outline #1, Love Together, Ephesians 3:14-21. Introduction: All you need is love – yeah right!? Sirius Radio introduced the first ever Beatles channel in May, and of all the Beatles songs they could have picked for the very first one to be played was All you need is Love. Besides repeating that phrase over and over, what does that really mean? Is all you need love? How about food, clothing, shelter, education, family, toothpaste? Pop culture repeats this mantra so much that it shows up in every sitcom, movie and even in many sermons on Sunday morning. Janet and I have watched a show called Supergirl. If you watch that, count how many times they talk about love and the drama that issues. It is amazing how clueless many characters are to what agape self-sacrificing love really means.

We are beginning a series from Ephesians on Building Community. We are going to jump back into a prayer of Paul in Ephesians 3:14-21 that we looked at in June. But before we do let us get some back ground on why Paul is writing this letter to the newly converted Greeks and Jews in Ephesus. Jews were taught from childhood to hate the Greeks. The first three chapters are the basis for unity in the New Church Jesus established on the cross. The last three chapters are the context in which this new body of believers relate, to each other and to the world. Having stated that positionally the Gentile and Jewish believers are one new man in 2:15, which is the body of Christ, Paul now prayed that they may be united not just doctrinally but practically. He desired that they might genuinely know and experience Christ’s love toward each other.

We Kneel - In the Greek verses 14-19 is one long run-on sentence, Paul has eight of them in Ephesians. Paul kneels before God, who is the Father, meaning that He is the prototype of all fatherhood giving life to all beings, angels, and humans. We kneel before our Father in heaven. 

Reason – the loving unity of the Spirit. We are to be one family. In our church or any church this size you may not feel like family. You attend. You leave. And you may feel the power of the Spirit and understand the grace of Jesus in salvation but to be family, we need others around us, close to us, praying for us, living life together. Reality – the Fatherhood of God. In Christ, we are one family. As the church gathered people from many different religions, cultures, and ethnic groups, it was paramount that they saw themselves as one family. So, Paul prayed.

NFL Season is upon us, and football widows mourn until February. What do you call the play in football, when the quarterback throws the ball way down the field with only a few seconds left in the game, with little chance of anyone catching it? It’s called a Hail Mary. It’s a desperation play. That expression, from the 1930’s, was used by Notre Dame to describe why they tossed to no one in particular. The hail Mary: When you have nothing else to do, throw it deep and hope it works out. A lot of believers understand prayer like this. They pray when they have no other option. But prayer, as we have been learning, is supposed to be the steering wheel of our lives, not the spare tire. It's not there for emergencies only. So, We Pray:

For power - to strengthen you with power means to invigorate, to fortify, to brace in the dynamas, the miraculous power through the Spirit in your innermost being. For presence - that Christ might dwell - settle down, take up permanent residency. Inviting a person to stay in your house overnight is different than adopting someone a family member. Jesus is not a houseguest but the head of your household. You can clean your house to entertain guests but you can't do that with family. Being rooted and established (an agricultural term and established an engineering term) in agape love, self-sacrificing, not self-serving. For perception - to grasp (to comprehend- to let it all soak in) how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. How wide, long, high and deep is the love of Jesus? Then Paul gets carried away by saying to know this love which surpasses knowledge!! The more you know about Christ love, the more amazed you are. For perfection - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness (completely) of God. Some may see this as being perfect in God; to the measure denotes a future goal.

Our goal is to be perfected in Christ’s powerful love. I was in Atlanta for a conference when I walked over to 670 McDaniel Street in Atlanta. I found myself in front of The Perfect Church. Their motto is doing precisely correct amount of good to top the Salvation Army’s motto doing the most good.

Here is a poem called the perfect church: I think that I shall never see A Church that’s all it ought to be: A Church whose members never stray Beyond the Straight and Narrow Way: A Church that has no empty pews, Whose Pastor never has the blues, A Church whose Deacons always deak, And none is proud, and all are meek: Where gossips never peddle lies, Or make complaints or criticize; Where all are always sweet and kind, And all to other’s faults are blind. Such perfect Churches there may be, But none of them are known to me. But still, we’ll work, and pray and plan, To make our own the best we can.

Paul moves into a doxology, which is a liturgical formula or statement, expressive of praise to God. Ephesians 4:20-21

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more (this is a hyper compound of comparison: meaning super abundantly or quite beyond all measure) than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

As we begin to grasp the love of Jesus for us, for others and for His church:  We Worship. For in Christ We Have: A love that can’t be entirely fathomed. A life that can never die. A righteousness that can never be tarnished. A peace that can’t be fully understood. A joy that can’t be diminished. A hope that can never be disappointed. A light that can never be darkened. A resource that can never be exhausted. In Christ’s agape love, Robert Lavelle wrote: God’s love -- it is the most powerful force there is.

He is able to change our hearts, to transform us into one body for his name. He deserves our praise. Here are some things I’ve learned about love and myself: The more I understand God’s unconditional love for me, the more I can love others in that same love and grace. The more I pray for others to grasp the love of Christ, the more I am forgiving of their actions against me or God. The more I am filled with the overwhelming love of God, the more I can extend myself and my love to others.

Love is the one thing you can spend wildly, give it away to everyone you see, pour it on everything, throw it to the wind, empty your pockets of it, spill it out all over and tomorrow you’ll have more of it than ever before. God will see to it. He promises love “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” The infusion of God’s love compels me to pray for others. Love is what I have been praying for us, together.

Conclusion: The power of His love: He will fill you with His LOVE, his agape love beyond all that you could ask or imagine, for others and for His church. Be part of the active church of Jesus. Be involved. Join a Life Group. Sign up to serve. Come along side of somebody, and share life together.