We had a look at Ephesians 3:1-13 in a small group study last night and got a chance to see Paul roll out one really big reason that should keep us from being discouraged as Christians. Here’s what I think Paul is doing in this passage…
He’s in prison at the time of writing and as he announces himself in verse 1 as a ‘prisoner of Christ’ he realizes that his current situation could be one of great discouragement to the various churches around the area of Ephesus. This leads him to a little digression from which he only recovers in verse 14 of chapter 3. But its a digression that just frames everything beautifully. Basically Paul tells the Ephesians that God, in Christ, has made his manifold wisdom known to all the powers in the universe through the church – and he Paul is the herald of this great revelation.
Now on face value our eyes can glaze over what he’s saying here as old hat and so I think we need to empathize with the recipients of the letter and see Paul, our apostle, in prison and looking completely unspectacular and so get a sense of the discouragement they were facing. When we grasp this what Paul says should cause us to gaze in awe at the great God who through this weak and beggarly church of reconciled Jews and Gentiles is going to magnify his name through the universe.
The awe of these truths should drive us onward as we go through the numerous unspectacular events that make up the majority of our Christian life. As we go through day to day struggling to be faithful, as we look at our local church which simply gets on with the work of discipleship in ways that are far from glamorous we are reminded of the awesome work of God through his church. Ultimately he’s going to show up the dark forces of this world who will be left gaping in awe of his manifold wisdom. Do we get the same sense of awe as we internalize this passage?