I get a little anxious when the warning light comes in in my car telling me the fuel is low. Everything else seems to slip away, and I become fixated on finding a petrol station to fill up the tank. I’ve been stranded before when my car ran out of fuel. It often happened most when I was younger and didn’t have much money. It was a difficult and embarrassing moment. Partly my fault from poor planning, partly the fault of my circumstances, and partly just bad luck. It always seemed to happen at night, out on a lonely stretch of road, kilometres from a service station.
Churches often become fixated in similar ways. Something goes wrong with the heating or cooling, a building they manage, the budget they are trying to meet, or the grounds they are trying to keep, and suddenly everything stops until he problem is resolved. It happens in other ways also. The world around us takes a moral path that we don’t share, and suddenly we become fixated on telling them why they’re wrong. Variety is introduced in worship, and next thing we know there is a riot occurring because its not the music I think should be in church. We become fixated on all sorts of strange things in the church, and it has the awful tendency of consuming us.
It's wonderful to read the opening verses of Ephesians. Paul comes right to the heart of the matter. It’s all about Jesus. Jesus who blesses us, who sits over all creation, whom God chose us in him before the foundation of the world. This Jesus in whose name we are adopted as children of God, holy, blameless, loved. The Jesus whose sacrifice on the cross redeems us, forgives us, pours grace into our lives. This Jesus in who all the mystery of God’s will is set before us, which God revealed in His time, to bring about the fulness of time, uniting all things in Jesus. In Him is our inheritance, our hope, the word of truth, the gospel of salvation. It is this that the Spirit seals our lives, and for all this we sing praise and glory.
Paul reminds the Ephesians that despite everything that may be happening around them, all the things that may distract them, the tensions and concerns they have within their own community, their first love, the thing that must always place central to everything the do is Jesus. It is the same for us. We exist as church because of Jesus. Only in Jesus is our hope and salvation. God planned that before you even came into being, setting a place for you from before the beginning of time. As church and God’s people, we need to be fixated on Jesus and only Jesus.
Our concerns about the various little things that happen around a church and the world in which we live is all minor to the importance of being unified in Jesus. The world doesn’t need us to moralise their future, but to present them their only salvation. To be the presence of Christ in the world is the most important task of the church. It is our mission, our goal, and must be our fixation. To sing praise and glory, not just in worship, but in every aspect of our lives, bears witness to the centrality of Jesus for us. It says to the world, we have the hope you so desperately seek, its here in the one who was before time began, Jesus and only Jesus.