Hopefully, you were able to attend service at one of our campuses. If not, you can still see the sermon by Pastor Ken through this link. The focus of our study was how God is maturing us, which the text shows is not just us as individuals, but also us as a body of believers.
You may have noticed that our post this week for Session 4 of our Study of Ephesians Part 2 is a little late. To be honest, I was not sure what to write until Sunday when God brought our lesson into focus with some practical application. I had been struggling with the question of “In what area of life do you continue to stumble?” It is not that I lack answers, but that I am hesitant to confess to the world how many there are.
Where it all came together was in a greeting after service when I was confronted with a real need in another person’s life. I was unprepared for the answer I got to my friendly question in passing about their life. More, I found myself repeating past mistakes of failing to come alongside them in their moment of need. As I walked away, I found myself recalling another incident where my neighbor came to me asking for prayer about an issue in his family. Rather than meeting that need on the spot, I made the same promises we have all heard many times – “I’ll pray for you.” That encounter with my neighbor has haunted my thoughts for years and I still failed to act as I should when the opportunity came again.
This time, however, after giving the wrong answer, the conviction I felt over my past failure led me to get my wife and together we found the young lady so that we could encourage and pray with her. As we talked together, I marveled how our own marriage experience had prepared us for this young lady. It was this chance encounter that also led me to a new understanding of our lesson.
Where is Your Focus? By John Peavy
As I studied this lesson, I was led to Romans 7:19 where Paul talked about not doing the good that he wanted, but instead did the evil that he did not want to practice. This may have been why the song “Jesus; Friend of Sinners” by Casting Crowns also came to mind.
Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth’s become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me
Always looking around but never looking up I’m so double minded
A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours
When we start talking about maturing in the church, we often think about where we are as individuals. Too often, this leads us to look at those in the pews around us for an answer. There are two major problems with this.
First, they are still maturing just like us. As a result, we begin to elevate ourselves in our own minds because we have a false sense of superiority based upon flaws we see in everyone else. The only measure any of us should be using is Christ. Until we can say that we are exactly like Him, we have not finished maturing. This process, called sanctification, will continue until we reach Heaven.
I would compare this to being in a large family. As an older member of the family, we have learned from our mistakes and continue to seek ways to improve. Our example provides a path for the younger members of the family to follow and, hopefully, avoid some of the same mistakes. It also places a burden on the more mature members of the family to set a good example because the younger members are following you. But, just like learning to ride a bike, there are some pains that we will all share despite the examples we have.
The second issue is that we miss opportunities to minister to those who are in need or in pain. Instead of looking more like Christ, we look just like the world to them. The example we provide leaves everyone in a worse state of affairs because the younger member will fail to minister to others when they have the opportunity. Experience has taught me that it is in the shared difficulties that bonds are formed and we mature. More importantly, Christ told us that where two or more are gathered in His name, He is there – Matthew 18:20. That means that by failing to join with them, we have walked away from an opportunity to be with Christ and denied them that opportunity as well.
So, as a recovering sinner who’s only redeeming quality is the grace given by Christ, I am still stumbling through. I have plenty of mistakes for you to learn from, plenty more that I will make, and a heart that longs to get closer to Christ. My prayer is that when I lose my focus, I can get back on track by seeing you looking up instead of looking at me as we travel this path together.
Things to Know:
- If you are not involved in a Life Group you can find a complete listing of our Life Groups by clicking HERE
- You can get a member book for the study at the Life Group table in the Worship Center this Sunday or through this link: Study of Ephesians Part 2.