“To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, . . .” (Ephesians 3:8-9, ESV).
Paul reveals a great mystery: through the grace of God in Christ Jesus the Gentiles can now be made full members of the Kingdom of God. This was a unknown concept to the Jews who went out of their way to exclude Gentiles even though the Lord had called them to be a light to the nations. The legalistic Jewish converts to Christianity who opposed Paul insisted that in order for Gentiles to be considered members of the Kingdom of Gods, they had to become Jews first by keeping the ceremonial laws including circumcision. Yet Paul preached plainly that those who are in Christ Jesus are full sons of God, full heirs of every blessing of God’s Kingdom apart from the Law of Moses. Consequently, Paul brought down on himself the hatred and scorn of Jews and Jewish Christians.
Perhaps many of us think the Christian life should be smooth sailing. Many feel that we should never have to suffer persecution, that when we preach the gospel everyone will accept it and everyone will love us. Perhaps for that reason, many in the contemporary church have softened the gospel so as to attract others. Many churches have become just like the surrounding worldly. The gospel is merely the way to achieve self-esteem, self-fulfillment, health, riches and fame.
Yet Paul was ready to suffer for the truth of the Gospel of grace. He did not want anyone to come under the slavery of the Law. He therefore refused to change the gospel to appease his opponents or to make things easier for himself. The culture had to change to suit the gospel of God’s kingdom, not the other way around.
As we begin a New Year we should examine our lives to discern and root out those ways we try to accommodate our Christian testimony to the demands of our culture. We should think about what people would learn about Jesus from observing our life and speech. We must submit our will to His and ask for wisdom and strength to change so we may better proclaim His light and truth.