Mike Cope's blog

Thursday, September 18, 2003

One of my elders, John Willis, writes a daily devotional that he e-mails out. Here's the one from today: According to Ephesians 3:10, God's "mystery" "revealed" is "that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places." Paul is not talking about the church proclaiming the gospel to the world by teaching and preaching. Instead, he declares that the church is like a fishbowl which reflects God's nature, love, and purpose to the world by the love it exhibits in all its words and actions and by the unity it reflects between all human beings, whether Jew or Gentile. Markus Barth (Ephesians 1-3. The Anchor Bible 34, pages 364-365) expresses well the thought of Ephesians 3:10: "The church is not an end in itself but a functional outpost of God's kingdom. . . . In her total being, that is, as founded and ruled by the Messiah; as composed of Jews and Gentiles formerly dead in sins and divided in hostility; as a people daring to live on the basis of forgiveness; as a community boldly looking into God's face and speaking to him; as a suffering and struggling, poor and yet enriched nation--this way the church is God's display, picture window, legal 'proof' (2:7), lighthouse (5:8), for the benefit of the world. . . . As established, maintained, and set out by God, the church is an instrument through which he reveals himself. She is, in brief, by her very existence the 'revelation of God's secret in action . . . the manifestation of the wisdom of God.' . . . The function of demonstrating God's dominion and love is entrusted to the church. She is appointed and equipped to be a public exponent of grace and unity. . . . To let God's light shine--this is the servant task ascribed to the church in Eph 3:10. . . . Chapters 4-6 will describe in some detail the conduct by which the church 'without word,' i. e., by sheer good conduct, shall excel among people and powers outside the church." So, what does the world see when it looks at the church? Does it see people from all races and nations and social backgrounds loving and helping and caring for one another, and living in forgiving, forbearing, understanding unity? Or does it see people slandering one another, criticizing one another, finding fault with one another, gossiping about one another, discouraging one another, bickering and quibbling over differing worship styles, interpretations of scripture, understandings of the nature of God and Christ, long held traditions and beliefs which the Bible does not even mention, and the like? Is the world drawn to God or repulsed from God when it sees the church, which is supposed to be his lighthouse or fishbowl or picture window in the world?

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