Mark Grace CCCNZ Ambassador
The COVID situation is pressing and stressful, but it’s not central
In Ephesians Paul names his imprisonment twice—it’s significant, but it’s never central. Christ. His gospel. His Church. These are central. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the government’s public health response, have become increasingly significant, but they are not central.
Our goal hasn’t changed
The beating heart of Ephesians 1 is God’s grace to us in Jesus and his death and resurrection. Paul marvels at what God does to us and in us, through our hearing and responding to the message of the cross. What a powerful reminder. Our gospel heartbeat as Christians remains consistent in a year that has been anything but!
I’m encouraged to hear this gospel heartbeat beating in church and camp partnerships, in the partnership between Word of Life and local churches, in friendships, in regional ministry connections, and in Easter Camps as people share this good news with others. Our goal remains unchanged: to work together to reach New Zealand for Jesus Christ.
Our connection with each other hasn’t been cancelled
Paul’s in prison in Rome, with 1800km separating him from the believers in Ephesus. Connections are hard but they aren’t cancelled. Over the year, as fatigue has increased, connections with brothers and sisters feel harder but they aren’t cancelled.
In Ephesians chapter 1 Paul affirms the Ephesians’ love for one another—love across what was likely to be a movement of Christians meeting in house churches within a city. In chapters 3-6 he specifically encourages them to live as Christ’s people in the context where God has placed them, knowing they face their own unique struggles and joys.
I’m constantly encouraged hearing of the support, encouragement, and partnership shared among CCCNZ churches in regions: churches gathering together for prayer, elderships meeting up, and churches partnering in supporting revitalisation and church planting work.
Trials remind us of what matters
Imprisonment is dangerous. It’s difficult living and working in Ephesus. In Ephesians both situations are presented as opportunities to be the body of Christ. Both invite believers to be living out the gospel of Christ amongst each other. Both call believers to gospel witness.
What opportunities are before you in the midst of the pandemic? What is God calling you to do as you live out the gospel of Christ as a witness to what God has done?
God is at work
Ephesians 1 is an incredible insight into our extraordinary God working in ordinary churches. The triune God is at work in, through, and amongst ordinary groups of believers. It’s true in Ephesus and it’s true in Eketāhuna: God is at work in global history and New Zealand history.
You are part of a wider movement of churches, campsites, and ministries
In Ephesians 1 Paul reminds people that they are not alone. God is intimately involved in them and with them. Secondly, he reminds them that they have each other. Can I encourage you to remember that you are not alone. You are part of a wider movement of local churches, regional campsites, and national ministries. You can take the gospel out where you are, with what you have, to those who are in front of you.