In 1996 Barb and I went through a “Sherlock Holmes Phase.” We both read through the complete and unabridged version Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The writing was top notch and it was really fun to try and see if we could match wits with Holmes and Mr. Watson. The mystery would play itself out in Doyle’s vibrant and descriptive words as I would to try to piece together the various clues so, before Sherlock would declare the answer, I could claim to already know what he was about to reveal. It always felt very satisfying to believe I had the brain power and the creativity of Sherlock Holmes when it came to solving mysteries.
I have always enjoyed puzzles, stories and movies that required me to solve something. I’m not sure whether it feeds my ego, my sense of competitiveness or that I just like the brain exercise – I’m guessing it is probably a combination of all three. I love understanding things and knowing how or why they work. I am pretty sure this is the reason that I enjoyed math and science so much. When my friends complained about the word problems in advanced algebra or physics I was in my glory – just don’t ask me to find the prepositional phrase in the word problem!
Barb has repeatedly expressed to me the great joy and sense of gratification that comes, as a teacher, when she sees a student’s face as the “lights go on” and they understand or solve something they previously didn’t grasp. I believe that the joy Barb is describing is very similar to the joy of solving a mystery. In her case, as a teacher she was celebrating that she brought about a “revelation” to the student that expanded their understanding of things.
It is not difficult for most of us to appreciate “revelation” or “understanding.” We have felt the exuberance that comes when we can solve something we previously felt in the dark about and we can resonate with the sense of hopelessness that comes when we remain in the dark. God wants us to be “in the Know” about what matters most. God is a God of revelation and light. He is a God of truth and He has communicated that truth in nature, history and His Word. The question for me and for you is this – do I want to live out of His revealed Truth or am I going to go in a different direction?
This week’s message based on Ephesians 3 addresses the fact that the completed revelation is found in Jesus Christ.
Jesus is the long awaited Messiah and Jesus is the answer to our sin problem that has caused the broken world in which we live. Jesus is the literal arrival of God on the scene – He is the revealed God in all of His holiness, grace and glory. When we want to understand or “know the answer to the mystery” or grasp God we need to look to Jesus. He is God’s primary communication and He is the solution!
God said, “Let me clarify myself” and Jesus was born, lived, died and rose again!
Who doesn’t like to have a place where they belong? Who doesn’t want to be recognized, noticed and appreciated? I know I sure do and I am quite confident that you want that as well. I am amazed how powerful the emotional memories are when I was recognized or singled out in a bad way. Can you relate to this at all?
Today these are a bit humorous in their insignificance but they are also powerful reminders to me of just how fragile we are. I can still intensely feel the anxiety and the loneliness that came with those mistakes. It is also made obvious how important it is to not be “outside” or identified as not "normal." We want to fit in. We want to matter. We want to have a good place to call our own.
God made us to have our lives overlap with each other. The problem is that in our sinfulness instead of overlapping for strength, meaning and connecting, we bump into each other to conquer and to use up. Instead of appreciating different gifts, talents, personality types and diverse cultures, we look for ways to tear down or make inferior.
In our text for this Sunday [Ephesians 2.11-22] God reveals to us that He wants us to see the extraordinary depth of the oneness that comes through Jesus. We are united through our citizenship in God’s Kingdom and we are built together into a living temple. This is for all of us – no matter our ethnic make-up, our education or anything else - God means all of us that are followers of Jesus. This call for appreciating and working together is culminated, at least in my mind, when God drives home the fact that we are a single family. We are all brothers and sisters. There is a right way for family to treat each other and there is a reason for great celebration since we have a place and an identity that no one can take from us – even if we walk in the wrong bathroom!
One of the great themes that runs through all the pages of Scripture is that God wants YOU! He wants to set you free from fears, inadequacies, pride and anything else that would separate you from God and His family. Jesus comes to our world to heal us from sinfulness and set us on a path that is filled with joy and at the same time is of great significance. He makes us ONE!
Your Brother in Christ,
What do you want to do with your life?
What is the meaning of life?
This is your life!
Life is quite an amazing thing. Most days I feel like it is a wonderful gift and then there are moments when it is complex and heavy. Life is filled with relationships that are enjoyable as well as a few relationships that are a stretch. Life is filled with sunrises to be enjoyed, smiles and laughter to be received like a gift. But it also has sickness, sin and death that are just around the corner.
I point out this reality not to make us depressed and believe that for every good there is an equal or even greater bad counterpart. I point this out to acknowledge my need for a perspective and a way of understanding that is beyond me. All of the human philosophies that I have encountered to deal with “life and death” or “good and evil” come up short. They ultimately lack any truth that transcends or even explains the reality that I find within me and all around me. Attempting to find the true meaning of life based on humanism, in my opinion, either ends up in a place of blind optimism with no foundation or on the other end of the spectrum, which is hopelessness that invites us to a life that bounces between nihilism and hedonism.
I find that for most of the people who want their life to matter, they are naturally driven toward some type of foundation to it all. People seek to have understanding, hope and significance. It is this “soul desire” that drives us in all kinds of directions. We seek adventures, accomplishments, accolades, money, pleasure and this list could just keep going. In the end many of these pursuits are at best fun and may even have potential for good, but they will not ultimately deliver our hearts' true desires. What we are really after, even if we do not articulate it, is to be at peace with our God and ourselves.
What I really need at the core of my being is to know my creator and through that knowledge, I can humbly and truthfully come to grips with who I am. It is an amazing thing to find that my significance, value and peace are found when I see how incapable I am of true life on my own. I was designed to “find myself” outside of myself. Another way of saying it is found in God’s Word, ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ (Acts 17.28)
We were created to enjoy life. At the heart of this joy of life is walking with and knowing God. The biblical revelation explains why the world is so complex and why it seems broken at times. The reason is that the world is broken! We broke it! But God is a God of restoration and redemption. The story of God’s Word is a story of New Life. Jesus brought that new and complete life to you today. In fact, not only is He the bringer of this gift but He actually is the ONE…LIFE that is capable filling your soul once and for all.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2.4-5)
Living in our One…Life,
Have you ever been a part of a team? How did it go for you? Teams can show up in virtually any context, ranging from sports to music to your job and a million other places. It is really a fun thing to be a part of a good team and it can be quite unpleasant to be a part of a team that doesn’t operate as a team at all. A good team will have a sense of oneness even in the midst of numerous members, variations and diversity.
If a football team were made up of 11 quarterbacks on offense and 11 nose tackles on defense I am guessing there would be very few victories for that team. Or if a choir were made of gifted vocalists that refused to sing the same song, that would be a concert I would not want to attend. Would a furniture manufacturing company with the most gifted sales force in the country but no actual production force to actually make the furniture be very effective? I am guessing you see the fact that for a team to work properly there must be a unity of direction as well as a mixture of talents and functions.
This Sunday we begin our eight part series on Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians and we will see how profound and powerful God’s use of “ONE” is. We will consider the fact that God brings clarity in the midst of great confusion. He builds one unified family in the midst of a world that is disjointed and disconnected. Our God sets us on the singular path of our Savior Jesus Christ who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. It is through Jesus' life, death and resurrection that our lives find not only meaning but also a sense of oneness or unity.
We all want to be loved and be a part of something that matters. We desire our lives to be worth living. This is a God-given cry of our heart that will lead us back to our God if we are willing to be humble and honest. We were created to be connected to our God and each other. Over the next eight weeks we will be challenged, encouraged and hopefully set free to live our lives “in Christ” as Paul so often states in Ephesians as “God’s workmanship." We have been brought together to lead lives of impact and significance through the singular source which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
One with you in Jesus,
Pastor Nick Mundis