City Motivators for City Takers: THREE
Here is the third of a series that I hope will be an encouragement to those who have a 'city focus'.
City Motivators for City Takers: THREE
Prevailing in a City - Ephesus
When Paul wrote to the Ephesian church, he was writing to the whole church in that city, not a part of it or even one individual. When addressing them he does not use one noun or pro-noun that is singular. He is helping them to together, recognise and stand strong against all the anti – kingdom forces that were confronting them. A teaching that is so necessary and relevant for our day. He knew that either, the ‘Baal’ culture of the day would weaken and destroy the church, or the church would powerfully salt the culture surrounding them. What could he say to them? What would he say to us?
Eph. 1:2b. Paul’s desire for the church in Ephesus. (And the church in every city). “May God himself, the heavenly Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, release grace over you and impart total well-being or “peace.” The Hebrew concept of peace (shalom) means much more than tranquillity into our lives. It means: completeness, soundness, welfare, peace, happiness, safety, health, wealth, prosperity, peace, friendship. This is God’s desire for every city See Jeremiah 29:7
Eph. 1:3-14. Despite the chaos and disorder, they saw, and we see around us, we are chosen, forgiven, accepted, redeemed, blessed and adopted by God. We have all been sealed with the Holy Spirit and included in his plans to gather all things into Christ.
Eph. 1:15-20. Therefore, because of the above, Paul prays that we will understand the nature of our call and the incredible greatness of God’s power. The power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honour.
Eph.1:21-22. Jesus is far above any ruler, authority, power, leader. All authority belongs to Him. He is head over all things for the benefit of the church, his ekklesia.
Eph. 2:1-10. Through the defining act of Christ’s resurrection, we are part of God’s new creation,in partnership with God to further his work in the city and on earth.
Eph. 2:2 1-22. We are now one temple for God to dwell in, in Ephesus (or in our city or town). “In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit”.
Eph 3:10+20. Now God’s plan for usis to reveal his wisdom to unseen rulers and authorities in heavenly places. He is able, through His mighty power at work within us to do infinitely more than we might ask or think.
Eph. 4:1-6:9. To this point Paul sees us as redeemed, spirit empowered communities. Now Paul is seeking to move us on toward being a ‘shalom’, ‘kingdom’, ‘city-reaching ‘community. Be humble, be patient, be united, honour God appointed ministries etc.
Eph. 6:10. Paul’s conclusion to the Ephesian church. ‘Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power’ NIV or ‘Be supernaturally infused with strength through your life union with the Lord Jesus. Stand victorious (literally – ‘be empowered all of you together’) with the force of his explosive power flowing in and through you.’ TPT.
N.B. According to historical records the early church did bring transformation to many cities. Professor Rodney Stark, has written a definitive study of the major cities of the Roman Empire AD 1 – AD 300.In it he outlines the positive changes Christianity brought over that time to those cities. Evangelism of the Roman Empire through the Christianization of its cities was the story of the early church. He writes, “Christianity served as a revitalization movement that arose in response to the misery, chaos, fear and brutality of life in the urban Greco-Roman world. . . Christianity revitalized life in Greco-Roman cities by providing new norms and new kinds of social relationships able to cope with many urgent problems. To cities filled with the homeless and impoverished, Christianity offered charity as well as hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered an immediate basis for attachment. To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family. To cities torn by violent ethnic strife, Christianity offered a new basis for social solidarity. And to cities faced with epidemics, fire, and earthquakes, Christianity offered effective nursing services. . . For what they brought was not simply an urban movement, but a new culture capable of making life in Greco-Roman cities tolerable.” “Paganism collapsed under its own sinful weight and Christianity had simply been Christianity.”
The Rise and Fall of Christianity, Rodney Stark, Harper Collins 1997
Acknowledgements also to Robert Linthicum for his writings related to city issues from which I have gleaned for this blog.