Being Thankful for the Church
Read Ephesians 1:15-23
“For this reason, I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus…do not cease giving thanks for you.”
When things become commonplace, they become unappreciated. Those who travel in the Gorge for the first time are enraptured by the beauty of the waterfalls, the majestic mountains, the breathtaking sunrises, and the immensity of the Columbia River as it flows through the Gorge. But for those of us who live in the Gorge, it can easily become just a place to live and conduct business, a place to flee when we go on vacation in search of other places of breath-taking beauty to capture our wonder. This is not only true of landscapes; it is also true of people and relationships. When we first started dating our spouse, there was excitement and joy as we grew together in this newfound relationship. But as years move along, the wonder of companionship and marriage is replaced by the doldrums of everyday life.
Perhaps this truth is no greater illustrated than the perspective we have of the church. When we first accept Christ, we find joy in being with God’s people. We marvel that God in his infinite wisdom and grace would place us in a loving community where people mutually care for one another, a place where we can find support and encouragement in our daily struggles of life. We give thanks for the fellowship we enjoy. But wonder is replaced by the common and what once was the anticipated highlight of our week becomes a duty and obligation. Where we once were thrilled at the proclamation of God’s word, we now continually watch the clock as the seconds slowly tick away. Where we once gratefully prayed for God to give us understanding and a heart of obedience, we now just pray that the preacher will end on time.
In all his letters, the one common theme we find woven throughout his words was his gratitude and thankfulness for the community of believers. Even to the church in Corinth, a church that not only was gripped with internal problems but one that caused him the most grief, Paul states, “I thank my God always concerning you.” For Paul, there was no great joy than the church. For all its problems and challenges, he still marveled at the beauty and visible reminder of God’s redemptive work. When Paul was writing to the church at Ephesus, what brought him joy was not that they were perfect, but they were giving outward testimony of the inward faith they embraced. For Paul, the joy of the church was discovered in the reality of God’s work within them. They were more than just a meeting of people, they were the body of Christ, providing the visible representation of Christ to the world. For Paul, this was a wonder and joy that he never lost.
We lost the wonder of the church because it became too common, too regimented, to ritualistic, too easy. But now as we struggle through the events of the day, we are reminded how truly wonderful it really is. Tragically, it is only when we lose something that we genuinely begin to appreciate what we had. During the Holiday season, rediscover the joy of your relationships—with family, with your spouse, with others. But especially spend time thanking God for his wisdom in not only giving us a relationship with him, but also a connection to the body of Christ—the church. Ask God to rebirth within you the beauty of the church and the joy of fellowship.