In growing up in a large family with lots of brothers and sisters it was a common thing to share a bed each night. As the youngest it was also common for me to be the first one to go to bed and have a brother follow later, usually after I had already been asleep for a while. It seems that almost every night I was going to hear the words “Move over”. Usually it went along with, “you are taking up the whole bed.”
I was reading and praying about some things I was reading in the Book of Ephesians this morning when the thought pushed its way into my brain, “I’m still needing to move over and leave room for Jesus to have the place in the center.” It seems to the be the case that in everything we do we get this mental image that it’s all supposed to be about us. If we go to a store to purchase something our whole decision of whether or not this is a good place to shop depends on how everyone treated me. They may have treated a thousand customers that day in an excellent and caring way, but if they ignored me when I was there to buy a $1.99 item I go away thinking, “I’ll never go back there again.”
But it isn’t just in stores, we have the same challenge when it comes to marriage and family. In our consumer society the thinking is if I’m not happy then I’ll jettison the entire marriage, leaving children to suffer and struggle with why their mom and dad didn’t care enough about them to make things work. We need desperately to move over even in the marriage and family life and make room for Jesus to be the center of the relationship. Marriage has several goals but most of them relate to what we can do to bless the lives of others instead of “How do I get what I want and need from the relationship all the time?”
It is the same problem when you look at church. People come to church to size up how it fits them. Will this church meet my needs? Do they treat me with love and respect? Now I want the church to treat everyone right, but that isn’t what the church is all about. In Ephesians chapter 1 where Paul lays out the glorious church that God had been planning before the foundation of the world. His whole plan of predestination and election centered on the point that God was going to bring everything and everyone together in Christ and in His body, the church was to “the praise of his glory”.
Look at four statements made in the Book of Ephesians that help us to see the point I’m wanting us to see. In 1:6 after telling how we are all saved in Christ and predestined to live in him as holy and blameless he said, “to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” In verse 12 he said, “In order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.” Then in verse 14 of chapter one he said the Holy Spirit “who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.” Then over in chapter 3 and verse 21 after a marvelous prayer for God’s blessings in our lives in Christ he said, “To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
It may shock your tender system to know that the whole plan of redemption that God worked out down through the ages wasn’t about you primarily but about Him and His glory. The first function of the church is to glorify the Lord God both in the person of the Father and the Son and also in the Holy Spirit. That being said, it makes the fundamental question to be raised by any church or anyone who wants to be part of a church of the Lord is, “Lord what do you want?”
Can you imagine the Apostle Paul or Peter or the elder James going around conducting of survey asking the people in the town or city what kind of church they would like to have in their area? When Diotrephes tried to insert himself as the main guy in church John wrote him and the others to challenge his place even as a leader in the church. He wanted to be preeminent rather than having Christ there. (3rd John 9-10) Our problem in church today is we can’t get Diotrephes to die. He keeps coming back in every generation and in every church trying to insert himself into the place of honor, into the center of it all and the results are always disastrous. It is true he changes his name everywhere he goes. Often he comes as a she as well. Invariably when a Diotrephes isn’t allowed to be in the place of preeminence in the church they will begin to work to pull down and destroy the church they once praised as the best in the business.
If we are really interested in the church being what God wants, and it praising Him and glorifying Him, we would be willing to suffer just about any hurt or pain to keep from tearing down the body built to praise God. When we had rather destroy the church than allow ourselves to be injured in any way or even denied what we want it demonstrates fully that our purpose isn’t about pleasing God, building up the body or even in being a real follower of Christ.
Move over and allow Christ to be at the heart and center of the church. It really is all about Him.