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The Hidden Issues In Making A Spiritual Connection: Ignore At Your Peril

As much as the Halloween displays in shops and people’s homes are disturbing (and praise God that at MAKE church we get to play a big part in seeing The Light Party happen this year!), but the celebration of Halloween at least shows a recognition of the spiritual realm. Maybe for some people it’s even an attempt to make connection with the spiritual realm.


Certainly for myself, I can remember thirsting for connection with the spiritual part of life in my early years at University. I was reading new age books, attending yoga classes, having lots of spiritual conversations, but sadly none it led me in helpful directions. My life became more chaotic, rather than less, until I met Jesus.


Of course for the person who has a relationship with Jesus as their Lord, they know the truth that they have become the temple for the Holy Spirit on earth (Ephesians 2:21-22). Yet, even knowing that truth, how do we step fully into that profound reality?


Suffering and Spiritual Connection


Over the past few months I’ve attended a number of funerals. It’s an honour to farewell departed friends and family, while supporting their loved ones who remain. But funerals are a constant reminder of things not right in our world. Life ends with death for 100% of people. Yes, there is resurrection for those who trust in Jesus - praise God! But we may be caused to wonder if it could all just be a little bit easier? Why is life so hard? So many people going through so many hard things - how are we to start and maintain a spiritual connection in the midst of it?


Opposition to Spiritual Connection


As much as we might desire that connection, there’s no denying that it is a challenge. Whether it’s the person just beginning their spiritual journey and trying to figure out how to talk to someone about it, or the follower of Jesus trying to pluck up the courage to speak to a friend about what they’ve found. Why can it seem so hard to speak about these things and to understand these things?

The Truth About Our Spiritual Connection


In the third chapter of Ephesians, as Paul turns to pray for the church, he pauses, realising that they might not understand from a spiritual perspective why he is currently in prison. There is a great mystery that had only in Paul’s generation been revealed on the earth:


‘This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.’ (Ephesians 3:6)


Whereas in the past the people of Israel alone were the LORD’s portion and inheritance in the earth (Deuteronomy 32:9), while all the another nations followed other gods as allotted by God (Deuteronomy 32:8, 12). Now through Jesus what was foretold had come to pass (see Psalm 82, especially verse 8), in that all the nations had been brought into direct relationship with God the Father, through the Spirit, by the blood of Jesus. The way Paul explains this is that there has been an administration change (Ephesians 3:2, 9). Whereas the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms thought they had the nations sown up, and had the seemingly simple task of setting themselves against the nation of Israel - something they were doing well in Jesus day as Israel sat under the rule of the Romans. Whereas the gods thought they had great wisdom, God showed his manifold wisdom, as he turned the tables, and brought not just Israel, but all the nations back into direct relationship with himself through the one man, Jesus Christ. As Paul preached the boundless riches of Christ to the Gentiles (Ephesians 3:8), this new administration was being brought to light to all the earth, and the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms were having the wisdom of God’s great plan brought to their attention.


'Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 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, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.' (Ephesians 3:8-11)


It should be no surprise that as we seek to speak of what Jesus has done, the spiritual forces come against us with persistent force. This message threatens their whole basis of power, at the same time as magnifying God’s abundant grace. As Paul will say later in his letter, ‘our struggle is not against flesh and blood’ (Ephesians 6:12). The way we continue in this battle is to realise both the reality of what’s going on, but also to not be discouraged as we see this battle raging.


The Abundant Gift Our Spiritual Connection


It’s interesting in Ephesians 3 how Paul keeps referring to God’s grace, we might say God’s gift:


‘Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you’ (Ephesians 3:2)


‘I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.’ (Ephesians 3:7)


‘Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ…’ (Ephesians 3:8)


Because of God’s grace, Paul was not only raised from spiritual death and brought into life and relationship with God, seated with Christ in all authority (Ephesians 2:6-7), but he was also now part of God’s new administration. He got to speak words on the earth that were an expression of God’s rule, working through Him. He had become a conduit of God’s grace to others, including us. As we are blessed by Paul and even other believers in Jesus Christ, we can thank God, because it is all part of the abundant grace of God towards us. It is through His people, that the risen Jesus continues to display his glory through their suffering.


Connecting the Plug


Far from being concerned about his situation as a prisoner, Paul wants us to receive his words as part of the grace of Christ (Ephesians 3:13). As a part of Christ’s body, His temple, Paul becomes a tangible living part of the reach of God towards us, that we might come back to Him. He makes this clear in the final verses of Ephesians 3:


‘For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.’ (3:14)


Each time this language of bowing the knee is used in the New Testament, it denotes submission to a ruling deity (Romans 11:14, 14:11, Philippians 2:10). Paul takes his place rightly under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and his Father, and he knows that as he does this, it opens the way for Christ Jesus to come into the lives of others and the fullness of His love by the Holy Spirit. We need not be discouraged when we see one another suffering like Christ Jesus or like Paul, because it is the way God displays his glory and extends His Kingdom into the hearts of men and women.


 

About the Author


Jai Wright is a Christian Minister, who founded and leads MAKE Church in Mackay, Qld. He recently published the book, Life Plugged In: Connecting with the Source of Peace, Power and Purpose.


You might like to think a little bit more about your spiritual health, by taking the Spiritual Health Check Score Card here.











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