Welcome To The Family - 2. A Band of Brothers
A Band of Brothers
We had our share of struggles growing up. Three boys close together made for a competitive, rough and tumble upbringing.
The oldest was bossy, the youngest feisty, and the one in between pushed back on both ends.
Boys will be boys, right? I could tell you stories of mishaps, accidents and plain examples of stupidity.
There would be the story of bunk beds collapsing together while two brothers were using the top bunk as a trampoline, and the third brother sleeping below, only to be pulled out with a huge goose egg on his forehead.
There would be the story of the wooden lids from spinners used as Frisbees, only to have one brother hit on the head causing yet another trip to the hospital.
There would be the story of brothers who dared each other to reach the highest part of a tree only to have one fall out and break his arm.
Of course, there is also the story of wanting to see how high up a nostril you can shove a pea before you’ve gone too far.
None of these things I recommend, but this was the rough and tumble of growing up in the Rausch home.
Nate Klassen you have nothing on the Rausch gang in their day!
We had our issues and struggles with times when we didn’t talk to each other nor liked each other very much especially during our teenage years.
While we eventually did go our separate ways, creating our own families and would see each other maybe once or twice a year, there was still this undeniable bond that only brothers can have. A band of brothers we were.
At the end of the day I knew that I could count on my brothers.
I knew that they would be there if ever I needed them and that we would believe in each other even in the most spectacular failures of life.
The same is true in the family of God.
Children of God
We began last time describing how we have come into the family of God; and that while the word adoption was used, it was unlike any adoption ever witnessed.
That when it says: “He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:5), that it doesn’t mean in the way that you and I understand adoption. You see, a human adoption can only go so far.
Don’t misunderstand me, it can go incredibly far; someone adopted can be made completely part of a family and the most successful adoptions are exactly that where is never any doubt that you are part of the family.
However, an adoption will always have its limits. You will never have your adopted father’s eyes. You will always have the blood and DNA of another course through your veins.
Hence many adoptees have this need to find their biological parents and make the connection with their blood relatives.
However, when you came into the family of God it was more than adoption.
We talk about Jesus giving up his blood when he died. That blood was applied to you.
His blood is in your spiritual veins and thus we were released from whatever former spiritual blood and ties were in us.
This is why we use the term ‘born again’. It comes closest to clarifying that we are actually born into the family of God with His blood in our veins and with us having our Father’s eyes.
Born into the Family of God
We have been born into the family of God. Not only is God our heavenly Father, with Jesus in this unique role as elder and princely brother, but with it we have come into this rambunctious family of many different siblings with as varied backgrounds as you could possibly imagine.
If you thought your family was unique you should try the family of God!
The Klassen’s and the Rausch’s having nothing on the rough and tumble of the family of God.
If the first part of Eph. 1 was about becoming children of God, then the second part of the Eph. 1 is all about figuring out life in the family of God.
Coming into the family of God is what’s captured in Eph. 1:15-23, with the key thought being what you what you read in vs. 22: “God placed all things under his feet and appointed Jesus to be the head over everything for the church which is his body.”
Not only does that set Jesus far beyond “an older brother by another mother” status, to where the family of God is Jesus’ family with Him as its head, but this also opens up the idea of this weird and wonderful family of God!
This is actually the first time in this letter that Paul calls this group the church, and he uses a word that came to define what the church really is at its core.
He uses the word ‘ecclesia’, which literally means ‘called together as the family of God’.
Friends, becoming a bona-fide child of God means coming into a new family. And just like you don’t choose your family on earth, so you also don’t choose the family of God.
The family of God is what it is, just like your earthly family is what it is.
The Weird and Wonderful Family of God
Here is the problem: Since you don’t choose your family, you’re going to be with people that sometimes you wish you could trade in.
Which boy doesn’t want, on occasion, to trade in his little sister? The same may will be true with some people in the family of God.
I can see Paul sensing that about the Ephesian family. In many ways Paul, while part of the family himself, saw his role as a governor tasked with helping the family get along as it grew up.
So he must have been imagining what it must be like trying to have all these new siblings coming in.
Remember what the Ephesian family was like. For most of its 25-year history it was a small band of about twelve people. Twelve people for over 25 years can be like an ingrown toenail.
Then Paul shows up and they had no idea what hit them. He was like this whirlwind of Holy Spirit energy.
And doesn’t God begin to move in that church and surrounding community, so much so that within two years the place went from twelve to thousands of people who came into the family of God!
By the time Paul writes his letter to them it was some 10 years later.
What was started, continued on so much so that Paul commented on all these people coming into the family: “I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints.” Eph. 1:16
Their fame had spread. Paul’s language suggests that he really didn’t know them personally. He had only heard about their faith; rumor on the street had it.
Keep in mind that he was part of this growing family only for the first two years. Since that time, many more people had come into the family, most of whom he had only heard about.
Thankfully, most of these converts made it into the family of God, unlike today with the rise of private faith and television and online church.
They understood intuitively what many don’t understand today; that is that becoming a child of God means coming into God’s family and identifying with a group of believers such as the Ephesians.
In our culture, this looks like becoming members in the local church.
So anyone that was born a second time was baptized as quickly as possible, to show the world that they are now children of God and thus part of the local family.
By the way, those of you who feel as though you have been born a second time have a great opportunity not only to make it public by being baptized but also to state your intention of belonging to our family by becoming members.
This is happening here locally on June 21, which is Father’s Day (how amazing is that!!)
Paul’s Prayer for Them
Because of this expanding family, Paul the governor says that he is praying for a couple of things to happen.
First off, he is praying that the Holy Spirit would help them know their new daddy better and better.
“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” Eph. 1:17
There truly is so much about our heavenly Father that we still have to learn. If he is your Father, then of course you want to know Him more and more, don’t you?
That’s what Bible study (self guided or in a group setting) is all about (put in a plug for PM’s study along with Precept).
But then notice what else he prays for:
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” Eph. 1:18-19
What he is actually praying for is that they would understand the uniqueness of the family of God.
I know that, at first glance, these verses don’t seem to suggest that at all but there are a couple of key words that hint that this is about the family of God.
Not only the phrase “his holy people” is a reference to the family of God but also this idea “that you may know the hope to which he has called you.”
Let’s talk about that hope for a moment. I realize that most often we associate biblical hope with the blessed hope of his soon return, which is absolutely correct.
However, the context of this entire section is not about the return of Jesus but living in the family of God and thus this hope refers to the hope we have in the family of God.
So how are you feeling about the family of God, friend? Are you thrilled with the family, or do you maybe feel ambivalent or even conflicted?
I told you this is as weird and wonderful a family as any family you have ever seen!
We are a hodgepodge of people thrown together from different cultures, demographics, backgrounds and ways of life, all of which we bring with us into the family.
So who said the family of God wasn’t interesting?
The Body of Christ
Consider Scott St Church for a moment. We are not all the same, we don’t all share the same values and we bring incredibly different perspectives to the family.
Let me give you a couple of examples of what I mean:
So for everyone who’s ever been disheartened by the normal struggles and tensions of a diverse family, you need to hear Paul’s prayer: “that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you.”
We can pray that we would feel hopeful about the church and that we would see what a beautiful thing the family of God is.
The reason for feeling hopeful about the family to which God has called us has to do with what Paul says the family of God is:
“God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body.”
Paul reminds them that not only is this the family of God (“the church which is his body”) but that Jesus is the undisputed head of that body, as Paul says, “God appointed him to be head over everything for the church.”
This is the reason why we are incredibly hopeful about the family of God.
This speaks to the church as the body has many different parts, each bringing their unique strengths to the table such as:
Yet we realize that with all other groups trying to get along that our unity is not rooted in goodwill alone but in the power of God in our midst that serves as glue.
His Great Power for Us
The other reason we feel hopeful about the family of God has to be because of the power of God that comes from this connection between body and head.
If the family of God is the body of Christ, with Jesus as its head, then the life that is in Jesus flows into the body and gives it its life.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” vs. 18-19
Look at what’s flowing our way: His incomparably great power for us which Paul calls the inheritance among his people.
Paul tries to find words to explain the life flow of Christ that is gushing into the body and is active in our very multicultural and multigenerational church.
“God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” vs. 22-23
What is the glue that makes us stick together? What’s the reason for our hopefulness and optimism for the family of God? It’s “the fullness of him who fills everything in every way”!
That’s what sets us apart from all other groups. We are filled to the rim with the life of Christ.
This is not just us trying to get along or being civil with each other; instead the glue that keeps us together and the thing that sets us apart is our family experiencing “the fullness of him who fills everything in every way”!
Whatever Jesus has is flowing into our family! Whatever is in the head goes into the body.
When you think to what Jesus had, you know it was not wealth, great kingdoms nor a luxurious life of ease. None of this is flowing into us.
What he had was incredible, mind-boggling and fantastic power!
This was power to heal the sick, to free those in bondage, to turn situations around, to speak prophetically into people’s lives, to teach with great authority and provide great miracles.
His whole life was a life of power. When he commanded, demons obeyed. When he laid hands on people, they were healed. When he forgave, they were forgiven. When he set people free, they became free. Jesus had incredible power.
Paul says that this power has been poured from the head into the body as our inheritance. It is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead!
“His incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” vs. 19-21
This power that raised Jesus from dead that Paul calls incomparable is among us who believe.: “His incomparably great power for us who believe.”
It was as though when he rose up to heaven on Ascension Day, that the mantle of power that he had while on earth flowed from the head into the body.
We Remain Optimistic!
The hopefulness we feel and the sense of optimism we have is not rooted in our circumstance.
This is a weird and wonderful family, with the rough and tumble of trying to grow up and get along, usually with three steps forward and two steps back.
Our optimism isn’t always because of what we see and what goes on. If this is where our focus is we would never feel hopeful.
Our hope and enthusiasm are rooted in the life and power of Christ flowing into us. The power that raised Jesus from the dead is among us this morning.
So we lay hands on people and they recover. We pray for people and God answers. We take authority over strongholds and they come down. We preach and teach with great authority.
Jesus in our midst is the reason for our optimism this morning!
Scott Street MB Church invites you to write your reflections and thoughts about the weekly messages shared by lead Pastor Jurgen Rausch.