“I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my pray-ers.” Paul to the Ephesians in 1:16 of his letter.

Here’s one of those verses that’s easy to rush right by. It’s not hard to think of Paul’s statement as being the first century equivalent of asking someone to-day, ”How are you doing.” We don’t really expect them to tell us because it’s more of a greeting than an actual inquiry. But if we understand Paul this way we do so to our poverty because the apostle is saying something quite significant here.
What is it?
He’s telling the disciples he regularly gives thanks for them when he prays to God. And he’s not blowing smoke—he means it! And because he does, it says something we need to hear about relationships in general but especially those within the body of Christ.
Paul was in Ephesus for three years (Acts 20:31). You don’t stay anywhere that length of time without getting to know the people and them getting to know you. Do you think Paul ever got sideways with a disciple at Ephesus? Do you think someone ever got sideways with Paul? The answer to both these questions is unquestionably “Yes!”
But that’s not the point.
The point is that despite this, and despite other differences—backgrounds, personalities, and whatever else was involved—Paul sincerely thanked God for those at Ephesus. He thanked God because he saw past whatever their differences and disagreements might have been, and he was committed to loving them … regardless. He held the conviction that they were bonded to him by the Spirit of God. Giving thanks to God for them was his spiritual response to that truth.
Everyone wants to be part of a special church. It’s easy to think that a special church is one that is on top of the latest trends, has dynamic assemblies, a beautiful campus, etc. Yet none of these things are what make a church special. A church where Jesus is exalted, and His people love each other—that’s what makes a church special. If a church has this, it’s special and if it doesn’t have this it doesn’t matter what else it has (see 1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
It’s not meaningless, but there’s nothing singular about a church where family and extended family members love each other. Nor is there any-thing unique about a church where people who are the same age, or have the same interests love each other. Jesus told us the world does that! What makes a church special is where everyone is loved and treated like family. That’s what gets the world’s attention and that’s what Paul was practicing in Ephesians 1:16.

Find more of Green’s writings at his website: a-taste-of-grace-with-bruce-green.com.