September 13, 2022 – Pastor Mark Albrecht
Message Big Idea – In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul describes the Church as the “Bride of Christ.” He also indicates that Christ is actively cleansing his Church “so that he might present the church to himself in splendor.” That is not to say that the Church is without blemish. As the Church, we must, individually and collectively acknowledge and own our sins of the past and grieve over them. This requires a heart posture of HUMILITY, GRACE, and FORGIVENESS.
- Take some time and share with each other: What are you grateful for today? What are you struggling with today?
- In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul describes the Church as the “Bride of Christ.” He also indicates that Christ is actively cleansing his Church “so that he might present the church to himself in splendor.” That is not to say that the Church is without blemish. As the Church, we must, individually and collectively acknowledge and own our sins of the past and grieve over them. This requires a heart posture of HUMILITY, GRACE, and FORGIVENESS.
- Read Ephesians 5:25-32 (Read twice – ESV and either NLT or Message)
- Go around the group and briefly retell the passage in your own words.
- What word or phrase “jumped off the page” and intrigued you the most? Why?
- How have you normally seen or heard these passages read? Where is the emphasis normally placed? (Leaders: how often has the emphasis on this passage been exclusively on marriage, and not on the Church?)
- Eph. 5:32 emphasizes the profound mystery that is Christ’s relationship to the Church. How does this influence our understanding of the Church’s value, specifically in Christ’s eyes? Describe some ways in which this differs from contemporary perspectives (secular or religious) of the Church.
- Eph 5:26-27 describes how Christ is sanctifying and cleansing the Church so “that she might be holy and without blemish.” In what ways does this mirror the Christian life on a personal level? In other words, what does sanctification look like in our personal lives? How is this similar to and/or different when discussing the Church?
- Is this (sanctification) to be understood as an ongoing process or a completed action?
- Matt. 7:5 clearly identifies a sequential way to approach brotherly correction. How can this be applied to addressing sins and failures on collective or corporate levels (local, denominational, cultural, etc.)? What Christian virtues must be present to faithfully live in accordance with Matt. 7:1-5?
- If you are comfortable, please share (or write down) any experiences you may have had with ‘church hurt’ or disillusionment with the Church. How has this impacted your relationship with the Church and with Christ?
- In light of what was shared above, how can I lovingly and faithfully pursue Christ’s Bride in the weeks ahead? What areas do we need to consciously grow in (humility, grace, forgiveness, repentance, etc.)?
Live It Out:
- What is one thing God seems to be asking you to do in response to this passage? (i.e. “I will ….”)
- Who can you tell about this “I will” statement in the next 48 hours?
- Journal about your time in God’s Word this week. Stop to listen to what He might be telling you. Celebrate His presence through His Word!
- Spend some time intentionally praying for the right heart posture to love Christ’s Bride going forward. Lament past hurts. Repent of past failures and complicity. Ask the Holy Spirit for abounding grace and humility. Amen!