I want to give you a taste of what I want to share with you on Sunday morning. In the early 1980's Steve Jobs was trying to recruit a guy by the name of John Sculley. Sculley was the president of PepsiCo and Jobs needed him desperately for his marketing and managing experience. But the job that Jobs was offering would have meant that Sculley would have to move his family to the west coast and take a pay-cut. Sculley writes about his meeting with Jobs in his book Odyssey. He said we were on the balcony's west side facing the Hudson River when Jobs asked, "Are you going to come to Apple?" Sculley said, "I really love what you are doing. I'm excited by it. How could anyone not be captivated? But it just doesn't make sense. Steve, I'd love to be an advisor to you, to help you in any way. But I don't think I can come to Apple." Sculley said Job's head dropped. He paused and stared at the ground. Jobs then looked up and issued a challenge to Sculley that would "haunt" him. Jobs said, "Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?" Sculley said it was as if someone delivered a stiff blow to his stomach. Sculley took the job!
Now Ephesians says something even more remarkable. Paul says in Ephesians 4 that "the one who ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things." He then goes on and tells how he is going to fill the universe--and the answer that he gives is that He does it with you and me! He says, "He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry" to accomplish this goal. In chapter 1, Paul said that God's purpose is "to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth." Jesus disciples thought it would be a disaster for Jesus to leave. Jesus said it was better because he would send His Spirit to be within His people so that instead of Jesus being confined to time and space He would be everywhere in the world through His people! Few people have changed the world in the past 50 years as much as Steve Jobs, but it doesn't begin to compare with Jesus' plan of renovating the entire universe. Someone said the church should have the acronymn of SASD--i..e. the society for the abolition of sin and death.
Now I realize that it often doesn't feel that way. Only around 5% of Taiwan are Christians. There is still AIDS in Africa. The whole Middle East is in political turmoil. Last night on CNN, there was an interview with a missionary who is in a hard labor prison camp in North Korea. You have had or will have suffering in your own life. Christians should never be triumphalistic. So how does it all fit together. I really don't know. It is beyond my own ability to answer. What gives me comfort is that the same Jesus who ascended to be the ruler of the universe is also the one who descended at an inn in Bethlehem to suffer more indignity than any human being in history (because he is not only perfect humanity but perfect deity). Christians understand that the world is worse than any of us could imagine (because of the fall), but also the most hopeful (because of our confidence in our ascended king). The church will all of its weaknesses is the largest and most enduring movement in the world. And the amazing truth of Ephesians 4 is that you are a gift to the world, that truly your hands are his hands, your feet his feet, your mouth his mouth. That should both humble and motivate us to live distinctive lives at work and in our neighborhood. It should make us passionate about living credible lives where with both word and deed we serve others. Let me encourage you to be in a small group where you call one another to this profound task. Let me encourage you to simply have lunch or dinner with a neighbor and listen to them and try to love them. Why? Because we serve and follow the one who has "a plan for the fullness of time to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth."