Beyond Your Wildest Dreams



Scripture:

Ephesians 3:20-21

Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Observation:

Paul comes to the doxology portion of this prayer. This is a word of blessing for the readers of his epistle. It comes from his desires for those who are following Jesus Christ. Paul has experienced the abundance of resurrection power in his life. He wants others to live a life beyond their wildest imaginations as well. This is a prayer for ministry for the church. 

Following in the wave or movement of the Holy Spirit we participate in Christ’s work in the world and suddenly discover that much more is accomplished than what we could have ever asked or imagined. The result is that Christ is glorified both now and in future generations to come, throughout all of eternity. So be it — Amen!

Application

Everywhere I go in the world I hear people lament the loss of our young people who do not want to follow the same path in the church, or follow the Christ that their parents have embraced. It’s a difficult time and situation, but I’m wondering if there is something that those of us in the older generations need to consider. 

Our new Regional Director for Africa, Rev. Daniel Gomis speaks of four values which we must embrace. I believe that they relate to the Apostle Paul’s prayer: 

Four Values

Authenticity 
Presence 
Relevance
Interdependence 

Somehow I think that Rev. Gomis is onto something that will have a great influence on the future of the church. There is a cry for authenticity among those who are a part of the church community. Authenticity includes a spirit of humility and recognizing that we must be a part of something much larger than ourselves. God doesn’t need us to develop a plan for how the Spirit should work in this world. Any time we try to do that, we discover that we our dreams are so much smaller that what God has in store. Our human plans will be limited by our imaginations. What if God wants us to become authentically engaged in mission, letting down our guard and allowing the Spirit to move us into places where we’ve never been before? 

Presence is also vitally important to this prayer. As God’s people we must be present in the Spirit, and physically present in our world. We cannot act one way while we are in church and then just hang up our “spiritual life” like a piece of clothing and go out into the world and be someone different. Authenticity and presence go together. Parents who take their children to church but never pray with them at home, or model what it means to be in the word, or helping their neighbors are not practicing presence. Our children will see that there is some sort of strange dichotomy between what we say and what we do and they will determine that this type of Christianity is not for them. Being present and in the moment is vitally important to connecting with and following God’s leading in your life. The fun part is when things begin to happen that you didn’t pray for, but you’re just in the stream of the Holy Spirit and you discover you’re along for an incredible ride, and you smile at the opportunity which as arisen. This doesn’t just happen — but it will happen when we are intentional about being present in God’s presence. That’s when we can be open to following the nudges of the Holy Spirit. 

Relevance is something we really have to discuss in the life of the church. Unless we recognize what is happening in the world around us, we cannot respond. We will be irrelevant if we sit back in some kind of cocoon that we crafted in another era. Christians must engage with the world in such a way as to be relevant. For some of us that takes some work because we may be sheltered by our work, families and friendships. What would it take for us to become more engaged in the world so that we can respond with relevance? Not that I have all the answers but here are a few things that may help:
1) Read! Society has significantly slowed in reading in the last couple of decades. However, reading helps us to become life-long learners, and a great way to remain connected with the world. I read a variety of books. These include theology, history, contemporary topics, and novels. I like to be stretched and while I spend a lot of time traveling, I’ve learned to download audio books so that I can continue listening even when I’m too tired to read! It helps me read much more than I would normally. 
2) Subscribe to podcasts. I listen to a variety of podcasts and preachers, some within my tribe, and others on the outside. I like to try and keep in touch with what is happening in the “church” world around me. 
3) Make friends outside of the church. Find ways in which to engage with people who are not like you, and then spend time listening to them! 
4) Be willing to accept criticism and feedback that will help you improve. When people tell you that you’re out of touch, or not listening to particular voices, find ways in which to be more open. 
5) Apply what you are learning to your life, and if you’re in ministry, to your ministry. 

Interdependence reminds us that this Christian life is not just about me. Our interdependence begins with complete and total dependence upon the Triune God. That’s where we find the interdependence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit — united in holy love. If God exists in community and interdependence, then who are we to think that we are supposed to go this alone. The African concept of Ubuntu is a beautiful reflection of what God intends for humanity, as the community works together in partnership. In Africa I see the interdependence of churches within a district that is not common in the United States. There are partnerships and the sharing of resources for the good of the kingdom. 

Interdependence also reminds us that our tribe is not an island unto herself. We are to remember that we are a part of something much larger than ourselves when we unite with all of Christianity in the work of the kingdom. Each member of the body of Christ, bringing her gifts and abilities to the table, we begin to see the synergy and God magnifying our work as we reveal to the world that we love one another. 

Paul’s prayer, for the glory of Christ to be revealed in the church throughout all generations, begins with me and my attitude. I am convinced that we are not living in the fullness of God’s intended work in and through us, because we are the ones who are trying to box in the Spirit. When that happens people begin to wonder about our faith. Is it for real? Why do we go to church? Why do we talk about Christian principles? 

By uniting with Christ, the mystery of God is revealed and the church (God’s people) begins to accomplish much more than she could ever imagine. The authenticity of this kind of faith becomes contagious and transformative. God wants us to participate in Christ’s mission to accomplish more than we could ever imagine. We just need to let go of ourselves and live into authentic faith in humility and submission to the Holy Spirit. 

Prayer:


Lord, for all the times that I’ve tried to do this on my own, I am sorry. Please, help me to daily connect with you and relax in your leading. May my life genuinely reflect you, and when it doesn’t, please correct me. Amen. 

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