‘Be filled with the the spirit speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit’ (Ephesians 5:19)
We can see from this verse from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that singing and music was a central part of Christian worship for the early church 2000 years ago, and has been central ever since. For a large part of the last 2000 years, most people couldn’t read, with only the rich getting a formal education. Hymns and songs with their catchy melodies would be one of the main ways that people would learn about God and Jesus. It is much easier to remember a song than to memorise a piece of scripture. Hymns and songs were and are vital because they build up the church and they instruct us. They speak to the heart and to the mind.
Let me make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws. (Andrew Fletcher – 17th century writer and politician)
Songs are incredibly powerful more so than laws! They mold us from the inside, Paul recognises this and so sees how important it is to make sure that we prioritise sung Christian worship as a central part of living out our faith. If you want to know about the ethics of the Old Testament read the Psalms, not the laws!
Click here to read – The Power (part 2)
‘I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.’ (Ephesians 3:16-19)
I really like Paul’s prayer in chapter 3 of Ephesians, in it you see Paul’s desire for the church to be filled with the same power that his ministry has been full of. Paul’s ministry was so powerful because through prayer he experiences the deep love of Christ.
Prayer brings together love and power: the relation of love that grows up between God and the person who prays, and the flowing of power from God too and especially through that person. (Wright)
Through prayer, we too can experience the deep deep love of God and have the power, that is the Holy Spirit, flow through our ministry as we build the kingdom of God in our communities.
‘Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us’, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.(Ephesians 3:20-21)
click here to read – The Power (part 3)
we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2Cor 4:14-18)
Paul is writing to vulnerable communities of faith who were on the edge of losing heart. In this passage, he is unusually personal. He talks of wasting away outwardly. The struggles of life. What are we to do when faced with the struggles of life?
Paul answers us in v16:
‘we do not lose heart, though outwardly we are wasting away’
And why because our hope is on what is unseen, we are to fix our eyes on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary and what is unseen is eternal. Our hope, and christian resilience is built upon the fact that God raised Jesus christ from the dead. Our hope in the face of adversity and pain is not rooted in any human capacity for optimism or natural strength of character. It is based upon something God has done.
By God’s gift and choosing, we find ourselves part of a bigger story, God’s story. And so we see throughout history communities of Christians, spreading the good news, and the hope they have in Jesus, even though they are struggling, and under persecution.
For Paul he knows he is part of God’s story, something so big and wonderful, something so amazing as being part of the family of God, because Jesus died and rose again, that he can describe his present sufferings as a slight momentary afflictions by comparison. That hope he has in the God of love shown in Jesus’ life death and resurrection gives him the strength to face the struggles that he now faces. We to are part of that bigger story and are part of the body of Christ, our hope is found in Him, Jesus is our sure foundation.