Ephesians 3:19 (14-19)
I ask that you’ll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God.
So you long for your congregation to be transformed? Paul’s prayer in Ephesians gives us a clue as to how that might be done. Paul prays that Christ lives in our hearts, that we are rooted and grounded in love, and that we have the power to grasp love’s all encompassing reach. Paul even dares to pray that we “be filled entirely with the fullness of God!” This is definitely a prescription for transformation. How does this happen?
Paul is speaking in the plural “you” to the whole congregation. He sees the congregation as the primary instrument and context whereby spiritual transformation happens. Jesus defines a congregation as “where two or three of you are gathered in my name.”
Spiritual transformation builds on formation. Paul speaks of spiritual formation as, “Christ being formed in us” like the birthing process (Gal 4:19). It takes time and effort and is life-long. As Christ is formed in us we live and serve in the character of Christ. Wesley referred to this as being sanctified in perfect love.
Spiritual transformation is what God does as we are aware, available, expectant, and yielding. Life in the congregation then becomes “sacramental,” mediating God’s transforming and sanctifying work.
Our congregations are transformed as we become sacramental in the sense that what we say and do, how we live and serve, mediates the transforming grace of God for others. God then can “release the love” through our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. With that, God can “do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine.” And that is congregational excellence!
O Christ, empty us of ourselves that we might be filled with the fullness of God. In Jesus’ name we pray. AMEN.
The Rev. John Collett
Executive Assistant to the Bishop