Ephesians speaks to our issues

By Andy O'Connell

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Over the next few weeks at OCC we will be studying Ephesians – the letter of Paul to the church in Ephesus. Of course, it’s always good to work methodically through a book or letter, as it forces us to engage not just with our favourite bits, but with the bits that are more challenging to understand or agree with! But there are six more specific reasons that the OCC elders wanted to look at Ephesians together this term.

OCC is called to be a community. Culture can be described as the water we swim in. Author David Wallace: “There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, ‘Morning, boys. How’s the water?’ And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, ‘What on earth is water?’” Culture is the water we swim in every day, but too often don’t perceive its impact on our lives. We live in an individualistic culture and as church we’re called to live counter-culturally, as a diverse-yet-unified community. Ephesians speaks to that issue.

OCC is called to purpose. We live at a time when the culture of church-going can be quite consumerist: “I find the church that I like that best serves my needs.” Rather, church is God’s family, called to committed relationship, common purpose and sacrificial discipleship. Ephesians speaks to that issue.

OCC is called to be multi-ethnic. We live in a city with rapidly growing numbers of non-white-Brits (that is people who are British but not white, and people who aren’t British). Stats tell us that Oxford is now the 3rd most ethnically diverse city in the southeast of England (London, Slough, then Oxford). Commenting on this trend in May 2018, Zimbabwean speaker Anderson Moyo challenged us: “Could it be that God is doing something in Oxford?” Ephesians speaks to that issue.

OCC is called to impact. Like the church in Ephesus, we’re called to be an apostolic base, a church that impacts its city and beyond the city. Ephesians speaks to that issue.

OCC is called to unity. As God calls us to spread into and reach different parts of this city – a community for every community – and beyond, it matters that we also remain one. Ephesians speaks to that issue.

OCC is called to battle. God has reminded us several times in recent months that we’re called to prayer and spiritual warfare, not just to be activists – to expect great things of God, even as we attempt great things for God. Ephesians speaks to that issue.

Join us on Sundays January through March 2019 as we explore this great letter, a letter that the great scholar and commentator FF Bruce once described as “The crown jewels of Paul’s writing, gathering up the main themes of his teaching into a unified presentation.”

Andy O'Connell