"What if we lived as a church? What if we recognized the gift that each and every part of this community is sent by God, placed here for a season and for a reason?" Dr. Love Sechrest, associate professor of New Testament, preached at All-Seminary Chapel on April 17.
Her message was based on the book of Ephesians, which talks about the power of God, the gifts of God, and the body of Christ, which is to be the church.
She explained that the book, a letter to the people of Ephesus, was sent to give them hope during a time of social upheaval and uncertainty. The book begins with assurance that Christ has triumphed over all the powers of the earth. That message resonates today as the world feels the pressure from socioeconomic forces like the financial collapse, economic uncertainty, bankruptcy, and mounting student loan threat, Sechrest said.
"These economic arrangements-these powers-they have affected our thinking about how to do church, about who leads and who doesn't, and what it looks like to do mission," she said. "I believe that God is using this moment of uncertainty as a reformation moment."
Perhaps God wants to break the chains of economic influences and allow people to go back to the basics of worship in "spirit and truth," Sechrest suggested.
"This text tells us in a time of uncertainty, you do not have to be afraid. Christ has overcome the powers," she said.
One of the ways God has helped the church to overcome earthly powers is through the gift of leaders, to empower the church and help it to be unified, she told the audience. She noted that the text from Ephesians is pertinent to the Fuller community, which is helping to create the leaders-pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and therapists building people up to maturity.
She highlighted that it is God, who supplies leaders as a gift to the church, not the other way around.
"It's Christ who gives the gifts," she said. "It's Christ's ministry, not ours."
The goal of leaders, then, is unity, so that the church manifests the peace of Christ to the forces on powers on earth and in heaven as a testimony to the glory of God.
Sechrest encouraged the Fuller community of faculty, staff, and students to demonstrate this unity as they work, and to recognize that each person is a precious gift created by God to do "good work here that God has fore-ordained."
"This text calls us to remember who we are and what our purpose is. God has given us the power to be a witness to forces that are giant and sometimes terrifying," she said. "In this time of fragmentation and disintegration, tells us that together we have power. He's given us power in the church, so we can live as a family in the powers of God."
Sechrest concluded with the last chapter of Ephesians that talks about the "armor of God." She told the audience that God wants to see the church clothed with the armor, and proclaiming to the powers of the earth that it is united.
"Fasten the truth to your waist. Remind yourself and your colleagues that the work you do on this campus is Christ's. Put on shoes that will take you to every corner of this campus, every corner of this city, every end of the world, and proclaim the gospel of peace," she said.