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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Ephesians 3:1–12

This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him. (NRSV)

You may remember that Paul had been a great persecutor of the early Christians when he was still called Saul and before he had a life-changing revelation on the road to Damascus. Imagine what a miracle it must have felt like to Saul to feel and know that the God he had denied so vigorously nevertheless grasped him, taught him, loved him, and gave him a new purpose in life. How amazing it is to be loved regardless of past wrongdoing and mistakes and to be given such a changed perspective, as Paul was.

In today’s scripture, Paul says, “Although I am the very least of all the saints [meaning all the followers of Jesus’s way], this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ.”

Paul was transformed by God’s gift of boundless grace for him—and that which he had received, he now had to give. Paul had a purpose, a vocation in life: to share the incredible richness of God’s love and to proclaim a vision of diverse people coming together and becoming the new body of Christ, the church. Paul said the church’s rich variety will show the wisdom of God even to rulers and authorities in heavenly places.

Paul’s passion to share this immense richness of Christ’s love was so great that he described himself as a prisoner of Christ, or a prisoner for Christ. He lived his life, then, as a servant of his purpose—to share the good news, to draw Gentiles to an understanding of the grace available to them, and to draw them into community, the church. May we each also find and be devoted to the purposes God has in mind for us.

God of immeasurable riches, I open my heart and my whole being to receive your grace. Please accept me exactly as I am right now. Heal me, change me, and send me to share your expansive love with everyone I meet today. Amen.

Written by Nanette Sawyer, Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Small Group Ministry

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