Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Ephesians 3:10-13

His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory. 

. . .and from the Message:

Through followers of Jesus like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels! All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus. When we trust in him, we're free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go. So don't let my present trouble on your behalf get you down. Be proud! 
Paul at His Writing Desk, Rembrandt
Ever had issues in your church that seem insurmountable?  Ever been hurt or let down by your church or someone in it -- a trusted friend, elder, pastor?  Ever find it difficult to be excited about going to church?  Difficult to feel inspired by sermon after sermon, tradition after tradition?  Honestly . . . yes.  Yes, to all.  Church is a messy place and it's filled with messed up humans all trying to do their best to live like something that resembles Christ and failing miserably a good percentage of the time.  Here's the good news, though: by some miracle, we display the glory of God to the angels!  Friends, this is no small statement!  Through all of our mess . . . through all of our failures . . . through all of the cracks and chips and flaws and stains of the broken vessels that make up the Church, we make the angels stand up and listen!  (I think I'd rather listen to them, but whatever.)  God's extraordinary plan to save us from the mess we are and remake us into people who live and love well is done only through His Son.  And, because His plan is eternal, it applies to all of history, as well.  That means that God's eternal plan to save us through His Son was doing its work in the sacrificial system in place throughout the Old Testament.  That system was meant to lead people to the grace and mercy of God -- in the same way Jesus' death on the cross, the ultimate and final sacrifice once for all, leads us to the grace and mercy of God.  (Hebrews 7:27)  This IS the "manifold wisdom," God's varied and diverse and complex plan to save us, that the angels love to hear us talk about and rejoice over!

Worship Painting by Jun Jamosmos

Considering this grand plan, Paul draws a conclusion: when we trust in Jesus, we have freedom to approach God with boldness -- with confidence, knowing that this plan to save us through the ultimate sacrifice really did work and God accepts us as we are!  (Hebrews 4:16)  When we come to God through His Son we walk through the blood that cleanses us from unrighteousness and walk into the all embracing, never failing love of God.

In verse 13, Paul rounds off this lengthy parenthetical statement of the administration of God's grace that has been entrusted to him by reminding his audience that his imprisonment (first mentioned in vs. 1) should not bring them discouragement.  It should instead bring them blessing and freedom.  The Apostle Paul knew the messy-ness of people.  He experienced the church with all its cracks and chips and flaws and stains and still believed in its potential to be a powerful force in the world -- just as God planned -- and he fought hard for her.  He paid a big price for her growth and expansion.  Paul saw his imprisonment, and all his sufferings for the gospel, as the price to be paid for the Gentiles to know the gospel.  That's HUGE!    How about you?  Do you see any of your sufferings as an opportunity for others to know the gospel -- to know the love of Christ?  I don't know.  I tend to wallow a bit in my trials.  Paul's life gives us much to think about.

Worship by Miki De Goodaboom
 Here we are two thousand years later and the Church still exists, more than that, lives . . . more than that, THRIVES!  Yes, the Church can be a messy place, but at her best, she is beautiful to behold and a force to be reckoned with.  I believe the angels still stand up and listen whenever we proclaim the gospel or whenever we live out God's plan as a part of His Church.  God's plans cannot be thwarted!

"I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted."
Job 42:2, NIV

Part of His Church,


Brooke said...

This is so encouraging and so right on! I, as we all do, can get discouraged at time when I or others fall short. But thank God, He is always faithful! Keep on is a true witness!


Kerry said...

Thanks, Brooke! I appreciate your encouragement!