The congregation at Ephesus received the highest compliment a community of faith can receive. Someone had heard of their faith in the Lord Jesus. Word had gotten out about them as they took to heart what Mother Teresa would describe about the Christian faith almost 2,000 years later:
“When you know how much God is in love with you, then you can only live your life radiating that love.”
The Church at Ephesus was radiating with God’s love. Word had gotten out about them as they did what every community of faith is called to do – live with faith in the Lord Jesus by:
- Extending God’s love toward all the saints.
- Living in the hope of being called by Jesus.
- Believing in God’s resurrecting power of Jesus.
Extending God’s love, living in the hope of being called by Jesus, believing in God’s resurrecting power. Word gets out when a community of faith radiates with God’s love by doing these three things.
Word gets out about churches like North Central Church of Christ in Flint, Michigan that extended God’s love by responding to the lead-tainted drinking water crisis in 2016 by giving out hundreds of thousands of free bottles of water. James Greer, a member of that congregation, described his congregation extending God’s love by stating, “We just want to make sure we’re reflecting Christ because sometimes we are the only Bible that people see.”
Word gets out about churches that live in the hope of being called by God as they are defined by the Greek word for church, ecclesia, which means “a called-out assembly.” Like Abraham and Sarah, congregations defined by the hope of being called by God are adventurers in faith as they seek to follow God’s calling to be called out followers of Jesus.
Pablo Diaz describes the call of congregations to be called out followers of Jesus by stating “that God loves us for all our faults and imperfections. Once we truly know that our lives can change.”
Word gets out about churches that believe that the immeasurable power that raised Jesus from the tomb is at work in their communities of faith. Word gets out about churches that believe that the church is Christ’s resurrected body. Word gets out about churches that believe Jesus, who in the words of Ephesians 1:23, is the fulness of him who fills all in all.
The first church that Bishop Will Willimon served for one year as a student local pastor was a small congregation in rural Georgia. When he arrived at the church, he was surprised to find that the doors to the church had a padlock and chain that were holding the doors shut. When Willimon asked why the doors to the church were chained shut, he was told that things had gotten out of hand at the church’s board meeting the preceding month. Willimon was also told that people started tearing up the carpet and taking out pews they had given in memory of their mothers. It got so bad that the sheriff came and chained the doors shut with a padlock and chains on the doors to the church until the new preacher could come and settle things down.
Willimon reports that what he had been told about the church was accurate and typified his year of serving as pastors. There were arguments, disagreements, and fights as he prayed on the way to church for snow in Georgia. After serving this congregation for a year, he moved on.
A few years later, Willimon was at a conference when a young minister came up to him, introduced himself, and announced that he was now serving as the pastor of this church. Willimon said that his heart went out to this young minister for being appointed to this congregation. After a few minutes of conversation, the young minister told Willimon, “they still remember you there.” To which Willimon replied, “I’ll never forget them either.”
“Remarkable bunch of people,” the young pastor said. “That’s one way of saying it,” Willimon replied. The young minister said, “The food pantry is a wonder. The free day care center is going great. Not too many interracial congregations in this part of the world. What a great place to serve for my first appointment. Willimon could hardly believe what he was hearing as he asked the minister, “What happened.” To which the minister replied, “I’m not exactly sure. It was just that one Sunday when worship was done and we were on our way out of church, we knew that Jesus loved us and had plans for us. Things pretty much took off after that.”
Extending God’s love toward all the saints, living in the hope of being called by Jesus, believing in God’s resurrecting power of Jesus. As Fort Hill proclaims this message, it is my prayer that things will pretty much take off as people hear of our faith in the Lord Jesus.
I Have Heard of Your Faith
by Pastor Marc Brown
June 11, 2023
Accompanying Scriptures: Ephesians 1:15-23
Fort Hill United Methodist Church
Order of Worship for June 11, 2023
Scripture Lesson Ephesians 1:15-23
The Good News “I Have Heard of Your Faith”
Music “Holy, Holy, Holy” Hymn #64
Closing Music “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” arr. Lani Smith