Ephesians 3:17-21 (NKJV) 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height– 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Yesterday we spent time looking at the importance of vision in the local church and I shared some of the process of how I received the vision for our church in Greene, New York. Just to summarize, I was in a stream that emphasized being big and professional as the goal and measure of success especially in local church. Certainly, not all the people in that stream felt that way. I am sure that to some degree this was my interpretation of what they were saying. Nevertheless, as circumstances and the Lord brought my time in one city to a close I rejected those ideas.
The principle that I felt God revealed to me about local church is that it is first a family, second a team and third an army. Depending on what God is doing and the season the church is in, any one of the three may be emphasized but I believe that the most important is family. God is a Father. To understand the nature of Christianity, we must realize that we are dealing with a Father and his family. That is first.
When the church is a family first, we cannot make the quality of the things done more important than the people themselves. Let me illustrate. In our previous church with the “quality for God” first mentality, we had a weekly bulletin. There was a woman who accepted the responsibility of doing that ministry. She enjoyed doing it. It was important to her.
One of the senior leaders in the church was a woman who was very good at design. It really bothered her that things were not lined up correctly. There may have been some spelling errors. In our mindset that anything done for God had to “excellent,” she took this job away from the lady who was not quite perfect and did it herself. I knew at the time that something was wrong with that but I was young and we were caught in that mindset that anything done for God should be excellent.
I believe we should give God our best. I believe things should be as high a quality as we can make them for the Kingdom of God. However, we must not forget that the people in the church are God’s children and the church is a manifestation of his family. That woman had a good heart and a good attitude. If that was not her calling, we should have worked with her until we found her calling. The bulletin being perfect should not have been more important than that woman. In our current church, it is not.
In Ephesians 3, I saw something that excited me. In verse 19 Paul tells us it is possible to be “filled with the fullness of God. I do not know what that would be. I cannot even imagine it but I want it. Verse 18 reveals a condition that must be met to have that. All saints must be together.
There will come a day the whole church will be gathered under Christ Jesus and we will all be together (Eph. 1:10.) However, today is not that day. We can begin to see a manifestation of the fullness of God if we begin to see all saints in the local church flowing together in peace, power and unity. That, along with the family priority, is the essence of the vision God gave me for our church.
I had seen certain things in my spirit but there was a prophetic word that came to me from someone who did not know me at all. He described a fountain of life that people would come to for all kinds of ministry. This is exactly what I saw and exactly what I believe Paul was describing in Ephesians 3. When all saints flow in each of their gifts and destinies but do it together working to fulfill the great commission in an area, we will see the fullness of God in that church.
In Galatians 2:20 Paul says that he has been crucified with Christ and yet he still lives. There is much to this verse but let me tell you one thing I believe about what Paul is saying. We died in Christ but we were raised again into a new life (Romans 6:4.) Jesus is the fullness of the fullness of the Godhead expressed bodily (Col. 2:9.) He was everything God could be within the limitations of human flesh. None of us is the fullness of God in our human flesh. However, when I was crucified with Christ, there was the capability for me to express all that God can be through my flesh.
I was Bill Kiefer. Once I was saved I became a new creature with a new kind of life. I am still Bill Kiefer. I still look the same. I still have same basic personality if more sanctified. I needed my mind renewed. There may be times we need emotional or other forms of healing depending on our lives before salvation. In any case, when I got saved I was a new creature and yet I am still the person God made to begin with. I am Bill Kiefer but I am a Jesus version of the person God created in my mother’s womb.
I cannot be everything that Jesus was. None of us can. I can be my part of what Jesus was. Paul made this clear in 1 Corinthians 12:12.
1 Corinthians 12:12 (NKJV) 12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.
Christ is one body but today he is made up of many members. He was everything God could be through a human being. The body of Christ should be everything God can be through human beings. However, for that to happen we must have “all saints together.” That needs to be true in the universal body of Christ but it must start by being as true as possible in the Local expression of Jesus’ body. There are many local expressions of the body of Christ in any community or region. However, it must begin in my local church for it to ever be true in my community, my country or the world.
Now we understand that no local church, even the largest, ever comes to the place of expressing the fullness of God. We do not have to. We need to express all that God can be through the people he draws together under a corporate vision and destiny. The local church should be the place where each person finds out who and what part of the “fullness of the Godhead” can be expressed through his or her body, soul and spiritual and natural gifts.
Let me ask something of the pastors and leaders who read this. What are you doing to release the fullness of the Godhead in the lives of those you lead? That is your job. That should be your goal.
If you are not yet a leader, what are you doing to be the Jesus you that was created when you were saved. Are you spending time with the Lord in prayer, worship and fellowship? Are you involved in a local body, doing what your hand finds to do? As you do that, you will come to understand what part you are. Having said that, do not worry so much about what part of the body you are. Feet pretty much just do what they do. The same for hands, ears, mouths and all the other parts of the physical body. As you grow and apply yourself to what you can do, it will become pretty clear what you are. Than all you need to do is be that, find others who are the same thing and help them be that as well.
If you are not part of a local church that is actively involved in the Great Commission, find one. We need you being what God made you to be, where he made you to be it. We need the fullness of God in our world today.