The spotlight is on Church leaders right now to get God’s house in order and rightly so. We have actually been trying to do so for many years. But in rooting out prejudice in our Christian community the messenger heralding ‘all lives matter’ will pay a price. For when a leader tries to unite then there will always be someone somewhere who is offended.
In the previous section Paul has ended by teaching how Christ had abolished the Jew-Gentile barrier and has created a new, alternative society, a Temple, where He lives. Then Paul continues, “For this reason I … he in intending to write another prayer. In verse 14, “ For this reason I kneel before the Father …” The comparison is so close it suggests that Paul hasn’t finished talking about the oneness of Jew and Gentile. So verses 2-13 can be seen as if they are in brackets. Let’s read some of the verses:
“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 3:1-6)
- The revelation of the mystery was received by grace.
The word mystery to us means dark, secretive and puzzling. But in Greek and for how Paul uses the word it means something that was known but not to everyone. Things which are beyond human understanding but are now known because of revelation. This mystery is the Gift of God. Paul says this revelation came to me and the apostles and the prophets. In 2020 we need more than ever the apostolic and the prophetic ministries in the Church to flow in that same revelation of the mystery. Maybe these ministries could have done more? Perhaps. But Paul says the revelation is a Gift from God. We cannot boast, it is not that we have achieved some revelation, it doesn’t make humans elite from others and so diminishing the mystery, this is of Him. It is grace.
- The mystery is that all are equal in the sight of God.
Paul’s revelation is that God always intended for the Gentiles to be equal to the Jews.
- The inheritance of the new world to come is theirs. Opportunities.
- They are members of the same body, of Christ Jesus. Recognition.
- All the promises and benefits of the Jews are also now given to the Gentiles. Privileges.
The mystery is a Gift to each other. Paul’s view is that, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) In 2020 Paul would say all one in Christ Jesus means there is no room for racists, misogynists or cultural prejudices. It is about giving to each other the opportunities, recognition and the privileges equally.
- This mystery will hurt you.
“For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles”
Paul was convinced that all the hurt of his life which included the stoning, beatings, storms and now this imprisonment was under the Lordship of Jesus. He is a prisoner for the Lord. However he is fully aware of the reason. This mystery needs a Gift of ourselves. Paul was in prison because he believed in the “all one in Christ Jesus.” He believed and preached the mystery.
So we come back to how I introduced this blog today. There is a price to pay and that is if we truly hold to this mystery then we will need to let go, surrender to Christ and throw our whole lives into this revelation. Those who try and root out always get their hands dirty. Those who speak up will offend because they won’t have used the best and correct words. But at least they are not silent.
May we see opportunities, recognition and privileges for all those who are in Christ Jesus whatever the colour of their skin, gender or identity and may we be willing to neither boast of this revelation nor be afraid of the price that will need to be paid from people on all sides.