A Time To Apply Ephesians – God’s Greater Vision

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A Time to Apply Ephesians – God’s Greater Vision

Hey CCC Family,

First off, it goes without saying that I love and miss you all dearly. I can’t wait for when we can gather in some capacity again and I trust that will not be too long from now. I wanted to send a follow-up e-mail to you after this past Sunday’s message as well as give you a head’s up as to where we are going the next two Sundays. This last sermon was a challenging message to preach. I imagine for some it was uncomfortable, for others it may have brought comfort. I thank God that our community is not monolithic, and Jesus is what binds us together. As a pastor, I always desire to be both bold and humble. It’s not easy to hold these together, especially when addressing such sensitive and weighty topics. One of my personal struggles in life is I have a hard time looking at my own pain, let alone acknowledging pain in the lives of others. To not turn away from the historic and ongoing racial injustice towards black lives in our nation has been a challenge for me. But God is working on my heart. I also find myself fearful to confront the darkness. And yet, this is part of our call as Christians. Throughout my time in ministry, I have had numerous moments of intense spiritual battle. It has never been easy, but through it all Jesus has prevailed. I believe we are walking through a season where we are experiencing strong spiritual warfare. A season that requires great courage and great humility as followers of Christ. Courage to pray. Courage to listen. Courage to weep. Courage to repent. Courage to forgive. Courage to love. Courage to bear with one another. Courage to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8). Courage to stay together and not push each other away. And most of all, the courage to follow Jesus, into the kingdom vision he has for all of us. Thankfully, Jesus is with us and in us by his Spirit.

For the next two weeks, I want to continue to allow the book of Ephesians to speak into our lives and the racial tensions and wounds we are having to reckon with. We have an opportunity right now to not just ‘hear’ the word, but ‘do’ the word. To not just ‘understand’ but ‘apply’. Last week we looked at the good news that Jesus has broken down the dividing wall of hostility. This is not something we can achieve, but something we are invited to receive and join in with Jesus. While this is good news, we also have to confront the ways we have erected walls in our own hearts against this gift. To truly live into the reality that is ours in Christ, there needs to be an ongoing spirit of humility, acknowledgement, repentance, forgiveness, and restoration. This is always the path of redemption in our lives. God loves us as we are but loves us too much to keep us there. 

This Sunday we have the privilege of hearing from a wonderful pastor in our city, Pastor Harvey Drake from Emerald City Bible Fellowship. Pastor Harvey is the co-founder of Urban Impact, of which CCC is a hub church. He has been ministering in the city for many years and served as a leading voice in racial reconciliation and community impact. Harvey and I sat down for a conversation last Tuesday (6/2), but I felt led to first speak to you as your pastor before I shared the interview. This week we will get to see that conversation. To see a real transformation, we need to work together. This has been the posture of CCC from the beginning. This doesn’t mean that working together makes the problem or pain less difficult or overwhelming. Quite the opposite actually. In the same way the gospel allows us to look honestly at our past, authentic Christian unity allows us to move honestly together into the future. My hope is that we would be a church that can look at hard truths, not with shame, but with grace and hope. Not in isolation, but together.

After this upcoming Sunday, I will preach one more sermon out of Ephesians 2:19-22 on “The Temple Rebuilt”, and then move into Ephesians 6 on spiritual warfare. Jesus is tearing down walls of hostility, but He is also healing and building! This is the case for all of us, and all of God’s people. He is tearing down idols and sin that cause harm, and he is building something new. Racial injustice should not find a home in the church, nor in our society anymore. And yet, we can’t stop there. Overcoming evil is not the end of the story, we are also pursuing a new and beautiful good. What is God building? What is He seeking to create with the new humanity Jesus died for? Humanity has always used differences to harm. How does God intend us to celebrate our differences for His Glory?

I also want you to know that we are working on some resources for those who want to dig deeper into the biblical theme of justice and racial reconciliation. As well as praying and talking as staff and leaders about what it looks like to see God’s vision continue to be fulfilled at CCC. I know for some of you this is very new. I personally have been on this journey for a number of years, starting with my time in seminary 13 years ago. I received my master’s degree in Global Urban Ministry, so I was confronted very quickly with the need to see my faith through the lens of people who didn’t look like me. Much of my studies were in global cities around the nation and world. Though difficult, disorienting, and convicting at times, it has only made my life richer and my love for Jesus and his global and diverse church stronger! More than anything, I’m praying that we can all press into God’s heart. I am reminded of a quote by Jacky Pullinger, a woman who has spent nearly half a century working with prostitutes, heroin addicts, and gang members in Hong Kong. She said this: “God wants us to have soft hearts and hard feet. The trouble with so many of us is that we have hard hearts and soft feet.” May we continue to be people with soft hearts and hard feet. Pray, listen, lament, confess, forgive, love, dream, and then get to work with God. God is always at work and he loves us with an everlasting love. What an invitation.

I’m praying for you, church. I am so proud of how you are clinging to Jesus during this time. I’m glad that Jesus is the author of your lives and mine and the author of our church. He is not done writing our story and, in the end, it will serve to bring Him glory. He is for you and with you.

In Christ,

-Pastor Jeff

P.S. On Sunday I quoted two brothers in Christ, Dr. John Perkins and Brian Stevenson. Here is a video of a conversation they had this week. These men have modeled and lead the church for years as to what it looks like to work for racial reconciliation and restoration with the great power and love of Jesus.

Facebook Link: https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=702035377033783&ref=watch_permalink
Youtube Link: https://youtu.be/qx0l3ec14fw