Aug 18 — “Holy Zeal” The U-Turn Church series. See: https://wp.me/PaB50B-a5
Discussion and Reflection: In John’s vision the voice of the lamb that was slain says to the Jesus following community at Ephesus “You have forsaken the love you had at first.” What had been lost? What is first love like that might no longer be the case for Christ Community of Ephesus? What might it mean to a Jesus community to lose its “lampstand”? What of this part of the vision do you see as a a fair challenge to us today? In Paul’s letter to the same Ephesians, he writes God blesses the church to build the body of Christ among people “until we all … … … become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” This seems to be the purpose or goal. How are we doing at becoming mature in faith and gaining a full measure of being Christ-like individually and collectively?
Sermon notes: I begin where the book begins. With the question: Why do we make U-Turns in life? — because we realize we are not getting where we need to be. I next emphasized that for a church, the degree of healthy discontent with current direction will predict the likelyhood of change. If only two people see the need, it is unlikely. If collectively a good majority sees it and is willing to take new steps to change direction, it has a better chance.
U-Turns, are what I would call a Heart Change, Adapative change event. They are not technical. The authors make clear that a good U-Turn is driven by what they call “Holy Zeal.” Here’s how they describe it:
“it is the heart of God beating in the heart of his people. It is a hunger for the glory of God to pour into a church and overflow into the community.” It is a longing for more than a church “circling the wagons” so the world won’t get in. It is a spirit-prompted discontent with church being only about keeping the sheep in the pen and well-fed. It is a burning desire to see people enter a relationship with the God who loves them and who entered human history to show them the way back home and into his arms. Holy Zeal is a passionate commitment to count the cost, be willing to sacrifice, and follow Jesus into his ministry of making disciples of all Nations.” – The U-Turn Church by Kevin G. Harney and Bob Bouwer.
In our reading from Revelations, Jesus is challenging the church at Ephesus to find back it’s original passion for the things of God, for the kingdom. They seem to have lost their way in “busy-work.” Holy Zeal is that first love, that energy and willingness to risk because the gospel and seeking the glory of God give it to people. It is only grown and strengthened by a focus on closer relationship to the God of Grace. That is what has been fading in Ephesus.
In our reading from Paul’s letter to the same church, he is talking about growing in unity under the message of Jesus’s salvation and restoration of relationship to God, and growing in intimate relationship with God (what he calls knowledge of God which is not just intellectual knowing but whole person knowing) so that we can, individually and collectively become “mature.” He makes clear that means being in our full selves the image and likeness in behaviour of Jesus.
That is the purpose of living as citizens of the kingdom of God: Bring Glory to God, and become more and more like Jesus in our thoughts and actions.
Do we need a U-Turn?
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The following was put out as discussion material on the coffee tables after the service.