Scripture: Ephesians 3:16-19
We celebrated Back to Church Sunday last week, I hope that what we experience today is just the beginning—a taste of the belonging we can experience here, and an invitation to come back for more. Whether you’re a regular member, a first-time guest, or still on the fence about church, I invite you to commit to joining us for the remainder of this four-week journey in the book of Ephesians, where we will explore what Together means for us individually, as a church, and as a part of our world as a whole. Over the four weeks, we will uncover these themes:
- Together We Find Peace
- Together We Experience Love
- Together We Grow Stronger
- Together We Can Change the World
We Experience God’s Love Together
It is together that our ability to grasp God’s love deepens. And together is a reflection of God’s relationship with us. God dwells with His people, and so His love is present when we come together. As we gather, we experience His love in tangible ways. We find support, belonging, acceptance, encouragement, and strength from others. We see love in other people’s lives when it can be cloudy in our own. Coming to church isn’t about coming to a building or even a group. It’s about coming together into the shared expression and transformative experience of God’s love. And the best thing about God’s love is that it is totally 100 percent unconditional. He expresses His love to us by His goodness and grace. It has nothing to do with my actions or reactions.
Love Is God’s Plan
God doesn’t just have love or show love, He IS love. God and His nature cannot be separated. To be in relationship with God through Jesus is to be in relationship with love itself.
And all of history from creation to revelation was born from and is being shaped by that love. Love has driven the creation of the world and God’s relationship with humanity. Love has fueled His care for His people through the churn and grind of a world broken by sin and enslaved by death. And love has fueled the way of salvation and redemption in the form of Jesus, God With Us, who chose to become one of us and suffer as one of us and sacrificially take the place of all of us so that we all can be restored completely in God’s endless love. Love is not a side note. It is God’s nature and His plan for the world. It is His way for His followers and the lifestyle that should define us.
Love Binds Us Together as One
So that leads us back to the question I posed at the beginning of our time together today. How can we create an inseparable association between church and love? What does that look like here among ourselves and to the rest of our community and world outside? How do we experience love together, and how do we spread that love beyond ourselves?
There is no single right answer, but as we come together in smaller groups and as a whole church body, I hope this question keeps returning to our conversations and our plans. And for today I’d like to suggest three ways that can serve as starting points for us as we experience God’s love together and live out love all around us.
They are three Cs, and whether you are new to our church body or have been here for years, these can be doors to relationship and impact.
Whatever place or way you choose to plug in, it is love that guides and unifies us and our efforts. And it is Christ living in us that allows His love to grow in and flow through us. It has always been God’s plan for His people to experience love and to be bound together in love. We cannot underestimate the importance of love both within the church and in our interactions with the world around us. In another of Paul’s letters to the early believers, he wrote, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). Let’s carry that thought with us as we leave this place, and may we as a church always be known by our love for each other and for our community.