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Three Aspects of Faith

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Recap of last weeks message

Last week we began a study in the 4th Chapter of Ephesians in which laid out that as Christians we are called to a high standard to live by than the rest of the world. In fact we are to live our lives in a way that is consistent with the life of Jesus. Doing things and going places we may not necessarily choose if it was up to us, but we do because of our calling out of the world and our calling of service. We learned that it is the responsibility of all believers to live in a manner worthy of our calling by maintaining a distinct separation between ourselves and the world, and by faithfully executing those gifts and talents God has entrusted into each of us for service in the world.
You may recall when we finished our time together that we were going to look at three aspects of faith.

Celebrate Our Unity

About Unity - getting along with one another
Nothing destroys the calling of God more than the inability of God’s people to get along with one other. If we have been called out of the world and into the family of God, living worthy of this calling would be to function as family. The quality of a family is measured by how its members relate to each other. When there is harmony, we define the family as wholesome. But when there is an abundance of strife, we define it as dysfunctional, realizing that its purpose is no longer being fulfilled. As the family of God, then, we are to relate to one another in both lifestyle and service.
Regretfully there are times in which the church acts like a dysfunctional family, when life within the church is no longer fulfilling its purpose. We certainly do not that to happen here at Lebanon. So is there a way to prevent dysfunction from happening to us? I think so.
First we have to acknowledge that the church is made up of a lot of different people. I am not like… (name a few present). What often creates conflict within the church is the interaction of its people.
It is the church’s diversity that creates friction. People moving in different directions at different speeds, fulfilling different tasks, begin to rub each other in the wrong ways. Friction results and temperatures rise.
Paul describes the unique workings of the church as a unified diversity. He describes it as a body with many members, yet still one body (see ). This idea is an apparent contradiction. We tend to seek unity by sameness and agreement. This is usually the result of everyone’s doing the same thing in the same way. But not in God’s kingdom. Unity is both created and maintained by each person’s faithfulness to his or her unique calling of God.
If we could look inside a car motor while it was running, we would immediately be impressed with its diverse and intricate workings. Pistons slide up and down in the cylinders, rotating the crankshaft. Camshafts turn, causing the valves to go up and down, opening and closing their ports to allow fuel to enter and exhaust to escape. Gears turn against gears in opposite directions, and timed explosions are set off with split-second accuracy, creating noise and pressure.
In order for these processes to occur properly, there must be present the appropriate tolerances in the space between the moving and the still parts. Each part performs a unique function, often in seeming contradiction to the others surrounding it, but all function with one purpose in mind: to turn raw fuel into horsepower. Out of its diversity, the motor works in unity.
A comparison can be developed between the running of an engine and the life of the church. For a motor, three specific things are necessary to assure its smooth operation: oil, tolerance, and coolant. In the same way, Paul reveals three specific necessities for the proper operation of the church.

Oil of Humility and Gentleness

First is the oil of humility and gentleness. Paul’s command is for his readers to be completely humble and gentle (). Oil is used in a motor to reduce the friction caused by the rubbing of moving parts against each other. Without it, the friction would become destructive by wearing away at the surface of the part, producing heat. In time, these negative influences would cause the part to fail and the engine to break down. To prevent this from happening, a thin layer of oil is maintained between the moving parts to prevent them from coming in contact with each other. The surface wear and heat are greatly reduced, assuring the ongoing function of the motor.
Gentleness and humility exercised toward our fellow Christians are means by which we can continue to move in differing directions and speeds without causing undo friction and heat among us. If our actions are buffered with gentleness, our contact with others will likely not be harmful. If our egos are bathed with humility, we will be less likely to become overheated by jealousy or a sense of threat. Dominance is the opposite of these graces and causes us to exert a restrictive force against those moving differently than we are. We collide and restrict, causing damage and heat. Too much dominance, and all other movement slows or stops, and the life of the church wanes.
This idea of humility and gentleness might have sounded strange to Paul’s readers since they were Roman citizens. Humility and gentleness were not considered a sign of strength but of weakness in Roman culture. Humility and gentleness were the expression of a conquered people, not of the conquerors. Let the Greeks whom Rome overthrew express humility. Let the Hebrews who had long known subjection to one power or another be gentle. Rome was the world power and controller. This was not achieved by being humble or gentle. They were a proud, aggressive people. Being humble and gentle does not conquer worlds, at least not in the understanding of this world. Yet, isn’t this the paradox of God’s kingdom? Real power is found not in aggression, but gentleness, not in boldness, but humility. It is the meek who will inherit the earth. It is the last who will become first, the least that will be greatest, the servant who will be served. If such teachings are hard for us to understand, how much more so for the conquering people of Rome.

Patience = Tolerance

Second, Paul urges his readers to be patient with one another (4:2). The metal parts of a motor are made with great precision in regard to their size and shape. Each piece is made slightly smaller than the area in which it will move so as to allow freedom of motion, and to allow lubricant to come between the part and its surrounding surfaces. If the part were made the exact size of its opening, or if a motor were put together without this space, it would not be able to move, and the motor’s function would be compromised. This small space is known as tolerance. Patience is tolerance in a relationship. It allows a certain amount of space around a person so that he or she can have freedom of movement. The opposite of tolerance is intolerance, when space is reduced and freedom is restricted. A church or fellowship without patience and tolerance is an association without movement. It does not function or produce. It is frozen and lifeless. In the family of God, there is a need for patient tolerance if we are to assure the free movement of God’s people to live worthy of their calling.

The “coolant”of Peace

Third is the command to utilize the “coolant” of peace (4:3). A byproduct of a motor’s function is heat, created by two influences: friction, as described above, and the heat caused by exploding fuel within the cylinders. If nothing were done to remove this heat, the temperature would continue to rise until it destroyed the lubricants and metals within the engine itself. To counter this problem in most automobiles, a liquid coolant, usually a mixture of water and antifreeze, is channeled through the motor in special chambers. The coolant allows the heat in the metal to be transferred to the coolant and eventually pumped out of the motor into the radiator where the heat is “radiated” away. The cooled water then returns to the motor so that the transfer of heat can continue. The activity of the church can cause a relational heat that in time can detract from the workings of the Body. There is a need to transfer this destructive “heat” away so that the activity of the church can continue unhindered. This is best described as the function of God’s Spirit of peace.
Peace can diffuse a tense moment or a potential conflict. It can correct a misunderstanding or soothe a bruised ego. Peace can be the atmosphere that allows us to function comfortably with one another, even amid the hurried activity of a church at full speed. The opposite of peace is discord, the dry conflict that does nothing for the removal of heat, but only assures its continued buildup. Unless the church allows the free-flowing presence of God’s Spirit to bathe it with His peace, it will burn out as a result of its own function and inner conflict.

Conclusion

As a car motor finds its sole purpose in creating horsepower from raw fuel, the church finds its sole purpose in the fulfillment of Christ’s Great Commission
Matthew 28:
Matthew 28:19–20 LEB
Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days until the end of the age.”
Yes, God has made each of us differently, but for us to function in a way that allows us to carry out our mission of “Making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world” we must embrace our unified diversity by the use of the oil of humility and gentleness, allowing the patience of tolerance in our work together, and embrace the coolant of peace that the Spirit washes over us. It is possible that Lebanon church to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
As much as the church is dependent upon diversity of function to produce this oneness, the church can never lose sight of the fact that it is always a single unit.
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