Stop me if you have heard this, “Boy, has this been a difficult season.” That is an attitude I have heard time and time again. I think we have given up on the idea of ever returning to normal, but we should not give up on the Church getting back to what it does best. However, in this season, I wonder if the Church needs a reminder of its purpose.
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he writes:
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift.” (Ephesians 4:1-7).
The Gift of Inspiration
The first gift the Church has to offer its people is to inspire them. Paul reminds the people to hold their heads up and “walk in a manner” worthy of their callings (Ephesians 4:1). In this season filled with pain, uncertainty, and chaos, do not lose heart. We need a bit of inspiration. A reminder of who still sits on the throne. God will never forsake us. Believers need the constant hearing of the inspired Word of God. They need to hear accounts of God’s faithfulness.
The Gift of Encouragement
The second gift the Church can offer is encouragement. Paul lays out beautifully what form the encouragement takes. Meet this season with humility, gentleness, and with patience. As we do that remember to lift each other up and continue our unity with the Spirit with “the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3). We are, after all, one glorious body of believers connected with a common Savior, one common faith and one life-changing baptism. Paul says the Church points people back to the Means of Grace and the work of Salvation of Jesus Christ. That is the source of our encouragement.
The Gift of Identity
And lastly, the final gift, and maybe one of the most important gifts the Church provides, is to remind people whose they are. Today, we live in a world seeking its identity. There is no limit to the amount of input the world seeks to give on the issue of identity. Identity starts with our beginning. We have “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:6). Our identity is found in God, not in the constructs of society. We are children of God. Does that mean we are perfect? No, far from it. Does it mean we won’t be tempted to take on the world’s definitions? Of course not. What it does mean is we live under grace. We are flawed yet forgiven. The Church has a great opportunity to remind people of these three gifts. So, inspire them to live up to their high calling. Encourage them to support and bless one another. And remind them they are all children of God.
Learn how to encourage community, identity, and all of the gifts God gives to His Church with Connected to Christ: Overcoming Isolation through Community.