Something Big Happens Here
God wants you to be better
Wow, today it seems like a normal day as other day except we have to be in the church. Is that right?
Sometimes you discover a new truth by accident. Something big is happening here right now and many of you may be missed it if you are not very careful. What is it?
It happened to me sometimes. Here I found out as I was reading through Ephesians. Sometimes I read a few verses or sometimes a chapter. Occasionally I ponder a single verse.
I’ve been struck repeatedly by how Paul emphasizes the cosmic dimensions of God’s plan. He does it in Ephesians 1 where he talks about God bringing all things together under the headship of Christ (v. 10) and how Christ is now seated far above all authority and power ឲ្យខ្ពស់ជាងអស់ទាំងពួកគ្រប់គ្រង ពួកមានអំណាច(v. 21). Paul sees what happens here on earth as being closely connected to events in the spiritual realm. So with that in mind, I’m reading along in chapter 3 where Paul talks about how in the church Jews and Gentiles stand on an equal basis, with the same standing and the same privileges. That’s a tremendous truth to think about. Then you come to this verse:
“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 3:10).
That’s the sort of verse you might read quickly and not think about. But it deserves closer examination.
I. The Manifold Wisdom of God
Paul says that God has arranged things so that the church of Jesus Christ displays the “manifold” wisdom of God. The word means “many-colored.” Picture a bouquet of multi-colored flowers or a piece of fabric with a vast variety of colors, red and pink and blue and brown and green and yellow. I have seen computer programs that promise that they can print pictures in “millions of colors.” That’s the idea here. God’s wisdom has many hues, many varieties, and God intends to use the church (meaning those of us in the church) to display that wisdom.
Ray Stedman, a former Palo Alto church pastor and author of many books, explains it this way:
The word translated manifold here is literally the many-colored wisdom of God. Why did the apostle choose this poetic adjective? It is because life consists of many colors. We all have blue days. And red hours of anger and passion. And golden moments of glory. And dark, somber valleys through which we must pass. And lush, green pastures into which we are sometimes led. God’s love is manifest in all of these hues of life. So when you go through a blue time, it is God’s love that you are learning. When you go through a dark and pressured time, the love of God is being manifested there. You may not see it, but God knows how to make it clear. And even the joyful times are manifestations of the many-colored wisdom of God.
So far, so good.
But then look at that last phrase. God intends to display his “many-colored” wisdom to “the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” That can only be a reference to the angelic beings watching from heaven.
Kenneth West, a Baptist church pastor, offers this succinct summary:
The Church thus becomes the university for angels, and each saint a professor.
Folks, that’s a mind-blowing insight. It’s telling us that what happens to us on earth or in the church has a purpose that goes far beyond us personally. God intends to use the events of this life, the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the positive and the negative, all of it together and each part individually, to make a display for all the universe to see. He does it so that the angels scattered across the universe, in all their various ranks and orders and levels, will see something of God’s wisdom worked out through what happens to us here on earth.
II. Unanswered Questions
I find this perspective helpful because so much of what goes on around us seems to make little sense. I’m thinking of the heartaches of life, how one person gets cancer and dies while another person is spared cancer and yet another person gets the same cancer, goes through chemotherapy and survives. Why does one child live and another die? Why is one family hit with a seemingly endless series of trials? Why did this husband decide to walk away from his marriage? Why did the car wreck leave this man crippled but the man next to him walks away unscathed? The list goes on and on and on.
Why do some people want to get married but never find the right person?
Ephesians 3:10 offers us a unique perspective that we need to consider. I can say it in one simple sentence:
Something big is happening here.
Something much bigger than us. Bigger than our own personal agenda. Bigger than anything we’ve ever dreamed.
If we are Christians at all, we know that life isn’t about us. We’ve heard that for years.
But here is an insight that may bring light on some of those “why” questions.
God intends to use us as a demonstration of his wisdom to a whole galaxy of angelic beings who watch with great interest as we move through life on our way to heaven. They see us struggle, they watch us grapple with tragedy, they see us deal with setbacks, they pay attention when we cry out to our Father for “grace to help” in the nick of time. They see in ways we don’t see how God’s plan is moving forward through our suffering and pain and tears.
Now if this is so–and this seems to be exactly what Paul is inferring in Ephesians 3:10, lots of things that happen aren’t just about us. Something much bigger is going through our struggles in this world. We wouldn’t understand it even if God tried to explain it to us. But we get little hints of it in verses like this.
I think it means that at some point when we face hard times and when life makes no sense whatsoever, we need to stop and say to ourselves, “Something big is happening here.” God never wastes anything. Not even the tiniest tear falls without a purpose.
We are giving lessons to a heavenly audience.
Sometimes we think that life should get easier as we get older. I doubt that is the case for most people. If anything, the mysteries of life become more profound as we realize how little we understand about why things happen the way they do.
Two people die every second. But you are not dead. Why?
III. Three Quotes
As a means of helping us think about this a little deeper, consider these three quotes gathered from very different authors in very different places.
1. The first quote comes from a pastor who asked the following question, “Where in the Bible did God ever give someone an easy job to do?” Now we may quibble with the question, but I think the larger point is quite true. It’s hard to think of anyone in the Bible to whom God gave a truly “easy” job. Now why is that? God puts all of us to the test so that we will be forced to trust in him.
2. The second quote comes from a certain TV preacher. A few months ago, I heard him offer this insight: “God will never bring us to the place where we no longer need him.”
That’ll make you stop and think. Down deep there is a part of us that would like to come to a place where we don’t have to trust in the Lord so much. Not that we don’t want to pray, but secretly we’d like to be in such a place of earthly fulfillment where we didn’t have to pray desperate prayers to the Almighty.
If all our needs were met, we’d end up forgetting God just like the children of Israel did in the Old Testament. Earthly prosperity tends to be no friend of spiritual growth. And total prosperity generally means total disaster. I think that preacher was right on in what he said. God intends to bring us again and again to the place where we are crying out to the Lord, begging for his mercy and his grace.
Anything that drives us to our knees is good for the soul.
3. The third quote comes from me when I was on vacation. I thought it was a very good week on the ship, but there was one drawback. “We had a beautiful room, wonderful meals, and everything we needed was provided for us. We didn’t even need to pray.”
The church in China has no
choice but to pray and ask God for healing. Given the pressures, the church has
learned to call upon the Lord fervently. The end of the whole matter is
clear. Do not lose heart when hard times come. Something big is
happening here. Something bigger than you can see. Something bigger than you
Something so big that you can’t begin to figure it out.
IV. Using the Church
The verse said, ““His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” God wants you through the church using the wisdom of God to do something for God. Have you done that, each of you? I have meeting with pastor, Pastor Cal, and I have learned a lot of things from him. One is about lateness in the church. Lateness is not a culture. We use to say we use Cambodian time. But is not only Cambodian that is late. It is a worldwide problem and I am talking about coming to church not to work or to a doctor office. Actually Lateness is a problem of expectation. If you expect something big happen here you don’t want to be late but if you don’t expect God to show up then you don’t care to come on time. I am part of the problem because I fail to explain to you what is the big happening here. Thanks to God today that He told us that we are have the audience of angels today. You need to show that your life is better. Pastor Archie preached last Sunday that the opposite of better is not bad but apathy (Lack of interest). It is like we the words we used to say, “Normal.” Normal is the enemy of better. Normal is easy. You know the good in life never comes easy. And normal is not working. Until we admit that normal is not working for us you will never get better. Normal is always telling, “Oh it is ok.”
Do you expect what God is up today? Is it coming to church to worship God is a normal day for you or you found out it is big thing in your life happening here?
I believe God brings us back again and again to these times of desperation so that we will see that it’s not about us and our problems. God intends to use our trials to teach us to pray and to trust him more so that (and this is the point of Ephesians 3:10) the angelic beings will behold in us the many-colored wisdom of God.
When we see a fellow saint going through hard times for which there seems to be no earthly explanation, let us erect over that spot a sign with these words: Quiet. God at Work
Something big is happening here.