8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.
When I stopped to think about verse 8, I couldn’t help but chuckle. It’s almost as if Paul is saying, “If I can be saved, anybody can be saved.” We discussed this in my last post, regarding Paul’s past and how he rose to be pretty much the biggest enemy of Christianity in his time, only to become the biggest advocate of Christ until he died. Some people feel that they are beyond hope, that they cannot be saved. I tell you this: our God is bigger than your mistakes. In fact, God wants you to come to Him that much more. You have even more potential of bringing Him glory. You’re probably more like the Apostle Paul than you would know.
The mystery, as we discussed before, is that we are all God’s people and He wants us all to have a relationship with Him, not just “His chosen people” of Israel. I occasionally ponder the purpose of the Old Testament (in particular) and why the bulk of the bible is about these stories of God’s people constantly “screwing up” (to put it in simple terms). My wife and I often talk about stories in the Old Testament of how Israel continuously turns their backs on God even though He repeatedly shows them grace and mercy and forgiveness. Then we ponder how we too are the same way. We all are: you and me. This is why salvation is not just a once and done thing. You don’t just stand up during an alter call. You don’t just “get dunked”. It’s a continual process of making yourself a living sacrifice and keeping Him at the forefront of your mind. I think it’s one of the hardest habits to get into and keep.
Paul describes farther his mission on Earth: to spread the Gospel, which was once but a mystery to the world. I’ve been contemplating this use of the word mystery and I think it makes a little more sense to me today. In the Old Testament, specifically “the prophets” as the Jews of the time referred to the books written by them, specifically detailed the coming of the Christ. For 700 years they awaited these prophecies to come true. They were intently and expectantly awaiting the Messiah, but when He finally arrived, they rejected Him. Mysterious, isn’t it? Why the heck would you wait so long for something and then not believe it when it happens? Who in their right minds wouldn’t even stop to think about it? What would someone have to do to prove it? Jesus performed miracles; He taught with authority even though He had no formal training, and He even said He was the Messiah and the fulfillment of the prophecies. They didn’t want to hear it because then what? What would they have? It’s just like us and our addictions. We are afraid to move beyond them because they have defined our lives, much like religious piety defined the Pharisees. Ironically, this fulfilled the prophecies too!
I believe that verse 10 reveals a truth that we too often forget: that the wisdom of God be made known through the church. He isn’t talking about a building here. Nor is he talking about a hierarchy of belief systems. He is talking about those who make up the Body of Christ. Whoever believes in Him is the church. You see, Paul didn’t set out to do it on his own. His mission was to teach and raise up churches to carry it on. He taught them how to spread the Gospel of Christ to the world. It bears mentioning that what he taught them wasn’t about standing on street corners and shouting or going door to door talking; rather, he taught them how to live a life worthy of the Gospel of Christ so that all might know and wonder what this new way of living is.
How do you relay the message of the Gospel to the world? Are you telling the Truth?