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Passion for the Church

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Passion for the Church                      Macomb Baptist Church

Ephesians 5:22-33                                        February 5, 2006 - PM

Eph 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.  24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Five and a half years ago I stood there before a large crowd of people. My heart was beating heavily as though I had just run a race, but I had not. There I was standing, waiting; waiting with everyone else in the room. The others in the room were excited but I was ecstatic, standing there waiting for what seemed like forever. The music began to play, and I knew that it was THEE music. The middle doors in the back of the church auditorium opened. This was the moment, the moment that I had waited for, that I had longed for.  Every head turned as the congregation rose together, but my head didn’t turn for it had been fixed on that doorway for some time. There was Dawn, my beautiful bride-to-be. What I wouldn’t give to have been able to TiVo that moment so I could live it over again and again. Much of what happened on our wedding day is a blur, but I’m pretty sure of one thing, I don’t think I ever turned my gaze away from the face of my bride - well, maybe to put the ring on her finger, but that’s about the only time. I savored every second of our wedding, every moment with her; my radiant bride.

The Bible uses many vivid word pictures to describe the church. I think that the most vivid of all pictures we are painted of the church is found in the passage we just read in Ephesians 5. It not only shows us the purpose for the church but also the depth of the Fathers love and commitment to His Church. Christ views the church like a bride-groom views his bride.

I stood that waiting for the entrance of my wife-to-be and was filled with many emotions…

A joyful anticipation

A pure love

An undying hope

My experiences in those moments share with us a hint of the passion that Christ has for His Church. Notice, that I didn’t say “our church” for this is not our church, but His.

Jesus calls you and me to be His bride and that blows me away.  What a phenomenal truth.

So often we read this passage in Ephesians and focus on the husbands duties to care for and love their wives. That is a proper understanding and application of this passage, but if that is as far as it goes, then we have missed significant and wonderful truths about what Christ thinks of His church and how He has chosen to Love us.

Let’s read that passage once again, not focusing on how we are to interact with our spouse, but focusing on how God interacts with us, His church.

Read Ephesians 5:22-33

Christ’s love for us is so great that He identifies us as His own body. One man put it this way, “In our union with Him, His life extends to us. That means that when we are rejected, He is rejected. When we are persecuted, He is persecuted. When we rejoice, He does, too.”

At the end of this passage Paul quotes Genesis 2. Verse 31 says… Then Paul goes on to say that the passage in Genesis is actually referring to Christ and the Church. What does this mean? Consider this. Could it be possible that God didn’t get His inspiration for loving the Church from marriage but that one of the reasons God created marriage at the very beginning of the world was to give an illustration of His love for the Church? I think often we have it in the other way around in our minds.

God’s plan is that romance and the covenant of endless love between a man and women would display a glimmer of the intense love that Christ has for those who are His children. Every true love story ever told has hinted at it. Every groom weakened at the sight of his glowing bride has whispered of it. Every committed, faithful and love filled marriage has pointed to it. Each is an imperfect echo of the perfect love song of heaven - God’s love for His Church.

That begs the question, what does this mean for me, one of God’s children, part of His Church. Well, Ephesians 5:1-2 tell us… We are to be imitators of Christ. We are commanded throughout His Word to hate what He hates, love what He loves, be passionate about what He is passionate. And Christ is passionately committed to the Church. Are you? You say, “yes” after all I’m here on a Sunday night and what’s more it is Super Bowl Sunday night! Of course I am committed to the church.

Let’s take the story of Robert as an example to consider.

“Robert lives in Gilbert, Arizona…He loves life and people and enjoys laughing at himself. He’s got a good job and faithfully attends his church. But if you really want to see Robert excited, ask him about his Jeep. He talks about it like it’s a person. ‘She’s my baby,’ he says affectionately. He searched for over two years to find just the right yellow and black Wrangler. ‘It was spotless. Just gorgeous,’ he recounts. ‘Once I got the Jeep…well, of course I had to join the Jeep club,’ explains Robert. The local club had over fifteen hundred active members. It offered meetings, parties, trail runs and a web site where members could exchange Jeep tips. ‘It’s a whole Jeep community,’ Robert says. Through the club, Robert hooked up with guys who taught him the finer point of four-wheeling. As his Jeep-discipleship intensified, Robert’s commitment only deepened. ‘I was totally hooked,’ he says. ‘Every free moment was consumed. I was either working on a jeep, planning a Jeep run, hanging out and talking Jeep, or going on-line to check our Jeep website.’”

One weekend Robert went with his church to a conference. The last message of the conference was about the importance of the local church. In the message the question was asked, “Are you married to the church? Or are you dating the church?”

“The question unsettled Robert. ‘God started speaking. He was asking me, “Robert, what are you married to?” And the only thing I could think of was the Jeep club. It was obvious, but I’d never seen it before; I was married to the Jeep club and I was dating the church!’ As his mind played back over the last two years, Robert realized that he had pushed the church to the outskirts of his life. He had invested so much in the Jeep club but very little in his local church. If a Jeep run was scheduled on a Sunday afternoon, he’d be watching the clock throughout the church service, and ready to rush out as soon as the sermon was done, and then drag his tired body back to his pew to catnap through the evening service. And then there was the time there was the Saturday he was asked to help clean up the church property for a special conference that was being held at the building. ‘I totally blew it off,’ Robert recalls. ‘I didn’t even give it a second thought. I had promised the guys in the club that I’d help them pick up trash on a trail to prepare for a run. The reality is, I had no passion of the church or the people in it,’ Robert said. ‘I would do anything for the guys in the club. But I really struggled if I was asked to give time to serve my church, other than coming to the services of course.’”

Simply because you are occupying a seat in the pew on Sunday night does not mean that you are passionate about Church. Robert was there all the time, but his passion was something else totally. It is so important that we are here, in church, but attendance does not equal passion. Christ passionately loves His Church. He gave His life for it.

If we are passionate about the church, as Christ is, then we will be actively involved in doing all we can to be a part of a Church that brings glory to God. What does that involve? Paul shares with us five characteristics of what that involves. Let’s unpack them for just a few moments tonight. How can we be actively involved in being a part of a church that brings glory to God?

1.   Subject our lives to Christ’s authority

      - 5:23,24

-Christ is the head, the ruler, the authority over the church. What a great comfort that is. We have no Pope or Presbytery that is our authority, but Jesus Christ whom we much be subject to, obeying His Word.

2.   Selflessly give of all that we are and posses

      - 5:25

-Christ selflessly gave up His life for the Church! He gave His life, all that He was and all He had for us, His Church.

-Phi 2:5  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 7 [He] made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

-I Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faith.

-All that we are and all that we have is no ours at all, it is a stewardship, and entrustment from God.

 

 

 

 

3.   Allow God to sanctify our lives unto Him, spotless before Him - 5:26-27

-This is a process in which we are involved, but it cannot be accomplished without the power of God.

-He is the Cleanser of our souls and we are made clean by the Word of God as it affects change in our lives, shaping us more and more into His image.

4.   Supremely love others as Christ loves His Church

      - 5:28-29

-We are to display our passion for the church by loving others as we love ourselves

5.   Inseparably join together as a unified body in Christ

      - 5:30-31

-Eph 4:5  One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

-Eph 4:15  But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

-We are “Fitly joined” as a body, the body of Christ, for it is Christ who has joined us together as one, and even though we may be separate we are one perfect whole, for we are His body, of which He is the Head. God has brought us together and uniquely gifted each of us so that when we are all ministering, serving and worshipping together we act as a perfect (meaning complete) whole that brings glory and not dishonor to the name of Jesus Christ.

Are we truly passionate about the Church tonight? If we are, those five characteristics will be part of the makeup of our spiritual lives. We will…

Subject our live to Christ’s authority

Selflessly give of all that we are and posses

Allow God to sanctify our lives unto Him, spotless before

Him

Supremely love others as Christ loves His Church

Inseparably join together as a unified body in Christ

What a difference we would see in our lives and in the life of our church if we would simply strive to display these characteristics in our lives for we have been called to be passionate about Christ and His Church!

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