Sometimes there is a view in the church world that you can either be great at reaching people who don’t know God or you can be great and helping those who do grow in their faith. You can go wide OR you can go deep. But that’s not the Jesus way. Jesus was able to reach wide with the love of God to people far from him and he was also able take people deeper into relationship with him and with God. Jesus was a great example of being able to go deep AND wide. And the church as the body of Jesus needs to follow his example.
It is our vision here at ABC to reject the tyranny of the OR and embrace the Jesus inspired genius of the AND. That as we reach out with arms open wide with the love of God it takes those of us who are Christians deeper into relationship with him. As we go wide and serve others we are drawn into ever more intimate relationship with the greatest servant of them all. As we grow deeper in our love for God we are compelled to go wider in demonstrating love for others as Jesus commanded us to do.
2,000 years ago the religious wisdom was that God was for religious people, and that Jesus was for the Jews. God raised up this guy called Paul, gave him a radical mission, to take Jesus to the non religious people, those far from God, they were called Gentiles.
As Paul lived out that mission he travelled to different cities and many people became followers of Jesus. As he moved on he wrote letters to the churches that were being established in those places. In one of those letters to people in Ephesus he talks about his passion for the Gentiles and how to experience deep relationship with God. We are looking today at a section from that letter, Ephesians Chapter 3 verses 7 to 19. You can read that here.
Paul felt a strong responsibility to make God known, he wanted everyone to know the secret that had been hidden in God but that was now available to everyone. That sense of responsibility drove him…to whom much had been given, much was required…and Paul had been given the love and grace and forgiveness of God – and what drove Paul should drive those of us who are Christians.
Verse 10 assigns a lofty and cosmic role to the church, it is the channel by which the love and wisdom of God is demonstrated. Through the church the wisdom of God – his grace, love, mercy and forgiveness should be made known. Through the church the powers of darkness that would take away people’s joy, rob them of their freedom and steal away their purpose should be beaten back. Through the church the boundaries of darkness will be pushed back. Through the church the darkness will be kicked at it until it bleeds daylight.
Do you see the AND here: the love of God is long AND high, Deep AND wide. Love brings movement, it changes things. We can’t go deeper into relationship with Jesus and with God without being motivated to share that with others – to go wide. We can’t claim to be in deep relationship with God and not extend a hand wide to others far from him.
How? Two part deal – our part and God’s part:
- Our part – addition: we add our bit, our gifts, our resources, our energy our passion to those of everyone else. We serve, give, invite, partner, lead in setting the culture of love and welcome.
- God’s part – multiplication – to take the bits we each add and multiply it in to immeasurably more than we can imagine.
To find out more about serving and giving check out the Connect and Partner sections of our website.
Questions to reflect on in your small group or on your own:
- Have you ever experienced a church that is great either at going wide or going deep? What was it like?
- Can you think of other areas of life where often we think we can do one thing OR another? What would it take to embrace the genius of the AND in those situations?
- Think about the life of Jesus how was he a living demonstration of going wide AND deep?
- Read the passage in Ephesians chapter 3…what particularly strikes you?
- Look again at verse 10 – what does it say that such a lofty and cosmic role is given to the church?
- Why do you think God is so passionate about the church?
- Think about some examples of when going wide has led you into deeper relationship with God and where going deep has led you to want to go wide in serving others.
- What is God calling you to do in stepping up and adding your gifts, passions and resources to the church at ABC?