Recently at McLaurin Memorial in Edmonton I shared my ‘Four Fors’ regarding the purpose of the Church. In truth I was only give seven minutes due to other demands of the service or I could have come up with more. The first three purposes are automatic: ‘for’ Jesus, ‘for’ us, and ‘for’ others. In my preparation I came up with another, which is ‘for proclamation to rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms’.
Ephesians 3:10-11 states, “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (NIV). In context the Apostle Paul is sharing about the great mystery and riches of Jesus and His grace, but it appears God left some of the work of sharing of this news to heavenly rulers and authorities to the Church.
This broadcasting of news, in my view, occurs when we preach, sing, pray, and display the character of Jesus. With Jesus in us by His Holy Spirit we present to heavenly onlookers the truth and nature of Jesus. This occurs when we resist temptation while no one else is watching, when we share benevolence and compassion unseen by others, or when we pray in private.
Hebrews speaks of a ‘crowd of witnesses’, but I think we are also being watched by the rulers and authorities mentioned in the text. It is a great privilege today to fulfill one of the purposes of being Jesus’ Church by sharing truth with those forces unseen to us. We have likely understood that God is watching us, but other eyes are upon us.
So as we share in the Christmas season and acknowledge in song and our church events that Jesus is Lord, say it loudly and convincingly … you never know who is listening!
Your co-worker, Dennis
Have you ever noticed those moments before the feasting on the Christmas meal and the opening of packages? It is in those significant minutes … when the preparatory work is done, when we smell the food, when we observe the glints from the tinsel, when we inspect the packages under the ornate tree, when we rejoice as the family happily gathers … those minutes are really the pinnacle of the Christmas experience. These minutes are ones full of anticipation, expectation and wonder. I would venture to say that on average these are often the happiest moments of the whole Christmas experience for many. Once the packages are open and the meal is eaten there are already thoughts of ‘next year’.
The setting I describe is an across the board generalized observation, but it is unfortunately devoid of any call to renew our joy in the coming of the Messiah. For many, religious observances of any sort are ‘tacked on’ to the holiday experience as an extra to boost to set the stage for the real pleasure which may be exchanging gifts and partying.
Well, how about this for a new angle on the season: Can we now use the excitement we experience preceding our family Christmas celebration as a personal motivation to see in us an expectation for the return of Jesus? He said He would come again. We certainly should be closer now than at any other time in our history. Each year that passes brings us closer. Can we not take note of the happenings in our current day and relate them to those moments before our annual big event?
Regardless of eschatologies, we can always seek to be closer to the Messiah who came and was touchable and close … “God with us”!
May we all enjoy the season with joy, genuine joy in our Emmanuel!
Have a Merry Christmas Season … and a wonderful experience anticipating it!