First, he went around with a simple and hopeful message.
When Mark wrote the story of Jesus’ life, the very first thing that Jesus said was, “The time promised by God has come at last! The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!” (Mark 1:15 NLT)
Simple. The Kingdom of God is near. Repent. Believe. Thesis. Action.
Hopeful. God is close. He’s not far away. You may think he is, but he’s not. People may have a strangle hold on the “God business” but they don’t really. God may not have spoken for years, but he’s still close.
This is the same message that he wants to give you now.
He is near.
If people seem to have a stranglehold on God, they don’t.
If God hasn’t spoken in years, he’s still close.
This is the same message that he wants you and me to share now.
Despite the life you live…
Despite churches pushing you away…
Despite not hearing from him…
He is still close.
Repent. Or confess with action.
Believe. See it the way God sees it and act on it.
Then you’ll see the Kingdom that is so close.
This was the message of Jesus’ ministry 2,000 years ago. And this is still the core message today.
That’s the question Paul answers in Ephesians 4-6. We now have the identity of a saint. What does it look like to walk the line of a saint?
1. We have a direction. Ephesians 4:1.
Our general direction in life is that we are called to walk the walk of a saint. Anytime we are at a decision fork in the road, our question is “WWSD?”
2. We have a map. Ephesians 4:2-3.
Our map is how we interact with others. We strive for unity. Unity comes from being humble, gentle, patience and making allowance for faults. Basically, treating other people as we want to be treated because we all have the same identity and calling as a saint who has the image…identity…of God.
3. We have a road. Ephesians 4:4-6.
It isn’t enough just to have a direction and a map, have to get on the road to get to our destination. Our road is our mission. Our one mission is based on the One God. We are unified around the mission of knowing and making known the One God.
When a body walks in unity towards the mission of the One God, we’ll find a power together that we’d never find alone.
Paul now bursts out into another prayer for the Ephesians.
His prayer is for their new identity to deepen internally.
1. We must be broken for it to deepen. Ephesians 3:14-15.
Paul is in prison. Not today’s version of prison. An absolutely awful version of prison. A version that would make our prisons 5-star resorts. And he is there because of preaching Christ.
But Paul is still overwhelmed by God’s grace. He is broken before God and he falls to his knees in prayer because of all of what he has already told the Ephesians.
How overwhelmed and broken are we over God’s grace?
2. Identity deepens through the Spirit giving us inner strength. Ephesians 3:16.
For saints, the Holy Spirit gives us inner strength. So if we are burnt out…something is way wrong. We haven’t been following the Spirit. Being physically tired is one thing. Being soulfully tired is another.
If you are soulfully tired, this isn’t God’s design. Ask a lot of “Why?” questions. Get someone you trust. Someone who’ll be honest. And assess if you’re trying to paint on your own masterpiece, or if you’re living out the masterpiece God has already made for you.
3. Identity deepens through Jesus dwelling in us. Ephesians 3:17a.
For saints, Jesus dwells in us. And he dwells in us through faith.
Faith is seeing things the way God sees them and then acting on it. Where our perspective and God’s perspective differs, we defer to God. Where our actions and Jesus’ actions differ, we defer to Jesus.
And the Spirit’s inner strength and Jesus’ dwelling with us is inseparably linked. When we have faith, we’ll find strength. Where we find strength, we’ll have faith.
4. Identity deepens through God’s love. Ephesians 3:17b-19.
Paul tells us to test the boundaries of God’s love. Now, this doesn’t mean go out and sin to see how much God loves us. It means that the more we live in faith, the more we see God’s love.
And the more we see God’s love, the more we give God’s love away. And the more we give God’s love away, the more we test the boundaries of God’s love.
5. Identity is about God doing immeasurably moreon the inside. Ephesians 3:20-21.
I had thought this verse meant when I had an event, I pray for a certain number and God will give me more than that number.
And I got disillusioned to identity and prayer.
What God wants to do is greater than any external blessing. He wants to take our inside…the inside that we cannot touch on our own (but we try)…and fix it. But not just fix it, but do immeasurably more than what we ask or imagine.
That is what Christianity is all about. God doing way more than what we can imagine…from the inside out.
What is God doing in your life? Ask him to keep doing it. And see him do even more.