TODAY’S READING: Ephesians 5:18-20
“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” EPH 5:18-20
One of the most difficult and strange aspects of the Coronavirus pandemic has been our separation from one another. There is a deep-rooted need in most of us to come together. Throughout history, gathering to drink alcohol has been part of society. In recent times, the concept of binge-drinking has become a regular feature of a weekend evening. We still use the word ‘symposium’ for a group of people coming together. It is derived from the Greek word ‘sumposium’ which literally means ‘drinking party’.
This must have been an issue even in first century Ephesus as Paul draws a sharp distinction between a drinking party and a gathering of Christians. We often apply the instruction, “be filled with the Spirit” (v. 18) on an individual level and this is a continuous need in our walk with Jesus; after all, the theologian A.C. Welch said, “you’ve got to fill a man with something!”
It is, however, also a necessary feature of any church meeting. On a corporate level we need the presence of God above all else. In this passage we can see that the early church was a singing church; you get the sense that they could not stop themselves but overflowed in all different types of song. There were psalms, hymns and spiritual songs abounding! Today, we might proclaim Psalm 103, “Bless the Lord O my Soul”. The word hymn simply means a song of praise of God like ‘How Great is Our God’ or ‘Great are you Lord’. Spiritual songs can be spontaneous, prophetic songs that break into a meeting. There are some vital ingredients to this type of worship. We need to be Spirit-filled as songwriters, musicians and worshippers if we are to experience the power of God’s presence. We need to be conscious that we are not just singing to ourselves but exhorting, encouraging and empowering each other as we sing. We are literally, “speaking to one another” (v.19) as we worship. It needs to come, not just from the mouth but also from the heart. This means a heart full of God and a heart that has been prepared before the meeting, not just turning up. It also means a physical expression. Worship is meant to engage the body as well as the voice – hands raised, dancing, eyes closed and sometimes kneeling.
Finally, a Spirit-filled church is a thankful church. Its members filled with amazement and wonder that God’s love has reached out to save them and this fills them with thanksgiving because they know they are held in the hands of a great Saviour in Jesus. When we gather (even online as is the case for the time-being), this is the attitude we must bring.
• Read Ephesians 5:18-20
• Play those favourite worship songs, pray to be filled with the Spirit and fill your heart with thanksgiving.
• Next time you are at Church or Life Group or any other gathering of Christians, whether online or physically together, worship for the others more than yourself. I’m believing for a Spirit-filled moment for you and them.