What you don’t know can hurt you.
My oldest son Josiah was just a football in size when I bent down to pick him up and while he was in my hands, I felt a snap in my lower back. “How could I hurt myself? How could this happen? He’s such a little guy!” I was laid out on a sofa for 3 days unable to get up because of my back injury. Years later, it happened again. This time I was determined to find out the source of the problem and I visited a chiropractor. After a battery of tests, a simple rubber heel lift in my left shoe fixed everything! Little did I know that my left leg is shorter than my right leg, causing my hips to be uneven, causing a curve in my spine, causing the jelly-like tissue between my vertebrae to be pinched, causing me pain.
What we don’t know about God can hurt us too! We may not know we’re loved, cherished, forgiven, accepted, or pursued!
So, we’re beginning a new series called “Realigned: Chiropractic Sessions in the Book of Ephesians.” Why Ephesians? Because we need to know that…
1. We can find ourselves in the story.
2. The Ephesian church at the time of Paul’s writing was a young church (like NorthCreek)
3. God works in us from the inside out.
The world tries to define us and tell us who we are: successful by its standards or not, worthy or not, significant or not, valuable or not. One of Paul’s favorite phrases in his letter to the Ephesians is “in Christ”. Paul encourages the Ephesian church to be aligned “in Christ” from the inside out.
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus:
2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Claiming to know the “will of God” is to make a bold claim in any generation. It’s almost offensive. “Who is God? Who are we? What does God do?” These are precisely the questions that Paul sets out to answer in the book of Ephesians. Paul’s submission to the will of God is profound. Paul wasn’t a self-appointed apostle. Nor would he have enjoyed the pleasures of being an apostle after the litany of sufferings he lists in 1 Corinthians 11:23-28. His will might have been to stay on an all-inclusive resort on the Isle of Crete. The world’s will says, “Do what you want to do. Do it your way. Dig deep within and you’ll hear your inner winner speak to you.” But Paul falls in line with the great Jesus by saying “Not my will, but yours be done (speaking of his Father).
It’s pretty easy to submit our will to God when it doesn’t cost us something. Add some suffering, sprinkle in some hardship, sacrifice some pleasure or convenience, and the cost of submitting our will becomes a lot tougher. But Jesus submitted his will to his father (not without struggle mind you!):
I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.
So, we all struggle with the same thing: submission to God the Father's will. But Jesus did it. Sure it was a constant battle! But if he did it, with the power of the Holy Spirit, we can do it too.
NorthCreek is a place where you can aspire to submit your will to God through Jesus. If you struggle to submit your will to God and mess up, join the rest of us! You’d fit right in! We’re saintly screw-ups. NorthCreek isn’t a place for the finished, polished, and slick. It’s for real people with real issues in need of real hope. It’s a place where you can struggle and be okay in the midst of your struggle. God longs to work on us from the inside out. We’re the church that loves to help people take their next step closer to God, whatever that looks like. You should check us out sometime! You’ll be glad you did. Join us next Sunday as we continue to let God realign us in Christ! We are who God says we are!
What’s your next step?