(Today’s post by Marc Cannon)
The Author: Paul
Saul of Tarsus, a persecutor of early Disciples of Christ, turned “Paul” on the road to Damascus, by the presence of the Lord and lived out what many consider the most impactful ministry in the history of Christianity. A “Christian Killer” turned Disciple of Christ who suffered greatly but served willingly, obediently and with great joy.
The audience: The Church of Ephesus.
Ephesus, a Greek coastal city on the Aegean Sea that was far removed from Jewish tradition and law, these people were gentiles. Not only were they gentiles but this city was steeped in sin. Sexual sin, idolatry, lust, you name it! It was buried in it. The Church of Ephesus is who Paul is writing to here and one of the 7 churches of Asia (Revelations).
This letter to The Church in Ephesus is a game changer. As we all know Jesus was a Jew, God’s chosen people. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that the Jewish race/faith wasn’t set apart to be the only people on the planet God cared about. Jews were set apart to show the rest of the world how to live and they usually failed miserably. Paul was most likely sitting in a Roman jail cell while he wrote this letter and it was a letter of instruction and encouragement. But here in Chapter 3 the language reads, and I’m paraphrasing here, “People, rejoice because every soul on this planet has the ability to accept the Grace of God and the Salvation of Jesus Christ, not just Jews, but gentiles alike”. Just as the song says, “Red and Yellow, Black or White they are precious in HIS sight”. Every. ONE. This was controversial and Paul knew it. So Paul’s words were strategic and encouraging in this chapter and then Paul prayed that each of them know Jesus. That they understand and accept the Grace and Salvation they’ve been given.
As I type this commentary I cannot help but think how relevant this letter is today here in the United States. What if this chapter was titled “Covingtonites”,”Georgians” or “Americans”? With the current social, political and moral state of our country, human nature points us to segregation, separatism, racism and bigotry. In some places those ideals are actually taught. God’s Grace, Mercy, Salvation and Love knows no racial, gender or political bounds. There are tensions in this country, not unlike 1st century times between Jews & Gentiles, which I admittedly have been a part of in the past whether it’s bigoted points of view or political & social arrogance. Sometimes I still struggle with it. Then I think about how the gentiles felt and I remember I AM a gentile. The meat of this for me is that when I build those barriers above around my life, whether it is bigotry or political & social arrogance I stop extending grace and mercy and love to the people I’m separating me from and I can isolate one person or a people group. That is on the other end of the spectrum from who the Lord has called me to be. In Chapter 3 of the book of Ephesians Paul makes it clear that he is charged with an office and given a platform. In that platform is to speak God’s truth. Once we accept that same Grace we are also charged with speaking God’s truth. And God’s truth is that He sent His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, to die as a sacrificial payment for all of our sins, no matter what language we speak, the country we claim, our gender, what political party you call home or what color skin we have.
My prayer today is that each of us extends the same love that Jesus extends to us each day. If you are reading this and you haven’t accepted the Grace and Salvation of Jesus Christ my prayer is that you do that today! My encouragement today is that Paul stated in this Chapter that he is the “Least of the least” and that is enough when you’re in God’s will. Even from a Roman prison cell.
Are there areas in your life where you can love your Brother or Sisters better?
What is encouraging you from the words of Paul in Chapter 3?