God’s Mysterious Plan.
God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. – Ephesians 3:10 NLT
As a God-ordained spokesman of the Good News regarding Jesus Christ, Paul was given inside information or understanding that had been hidden from others for centuries. Like all the authors of the Scriptures, Paul was given insight from God through the Holy Spirit into things that others had been unable to comprehend or see. In this section of his letter to the Ephesian believers, Paul refers to God’s “mysterious plan” regarding Christ. He discusses God multifaceted wisdom and uses the Greek word, polypoikilos, which means “variegated or made up of different kinds.” And this wisdom is displayed through the rich variety of the church. “The church as a multi-racial, multi-cultural community is like a beautiful tapestry. Its members come from a wide range of colourful backgrounds. No other human community resembles it. Its diversity and harmony are unique” (John Stott, The Message of Ephesians).
Paul makes this mysterious plan clear when he says: “Both Gentiles and Jews who believe the Good News share equally in the riches inherited by God’s children. Both are part of the same body, and both enjoy the promise of blessings because they belong to Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:6 NLT). This is the remarkable thing about the church, the body of Christ. Because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross, everyone enjoys the same promise of blessings. We all get to experience the same gift of grace and take advantage of God’s forgiveness and reconciliation made possible through Jesus’ sacrificial death in our place. In Paul’s day there had been a division between Jews and Gentiles. In fact, there was a great degree of animosity and hatred between these two groups. The Jews looked down on Gentiles and considered them less than dogs. And yet, here was God uniting these two groups into one family. This would not have been dreamed of by the Jews of the Old Testament. They would never have imagined that the Gentiles would someday be viewed by God as their equals. For generations they had been the chosen people of God. Now God had opened up the Gospel to all people, and Paul had “been given the privilege of serving him by speaking this Good News” (Ephesians 3:7 NLT). “…he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ” (Ephesians 3:8 NLT).
Because of Christ, all men can enjoy a right relationship with God. It is not reserved for some specific group or based on ethnic identity. Anyone who accepts God’s free gift of grace through Jesus Christ “can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence” (Ephesians 3:12 NLT). Redemption and restoration are available to all. And as a result, the church is made up of all kinds of people, from all walks of life. There are Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, males and females, slave and free, servants and masters, the influential and the seemingly insignificant. The common bond we all share is faith in Christ. It is what He has done for us that links us together as one body. Regardless of our background, we all needed the same thing: His righteousness and God’s forgiveness. And God has placed us all in this unique institution called the church. Together we “display his wisdom in its rich variety.” Even the angels are amazed at what they see. The church should not work. It is a recipe for disaster. The very idea of bringing so many who are so different together, and expecting them to live in love and unity, is insane. It shouldn’t work. But it has for centuries and continues to do so, revealing God’s infinite wisdom. “. . . the church is to be an audio-visual display of God’s reconciling work. In this primary way she testifies to God’s grace and wisdom. So Paul encouraged living life in Christ in such a way that reconciliation is the dominant feature of church life” (Darrell Bock, A Biblical Theology of the New Testament).
Paul wanted his readers to understand just how special this thing called the church really was. He didn’t want them to take it for granted. It was not a man-made institution, but something God had ordained and orchestrated. The diversity of the church is one of its distinctives. The rich variety of individuals who have been chosen by God and placed into His family is a testimony to His great love and grace. The very fact that we can live in unity together is a vivid illustration of His power and presence among us. God not only reconciles men to Himself, He reconciles men to one another, erasing man-made lines of distinction and eliminating the prejudices and animosities that have long plagued mankind. Like the Jews and Gentiles of Paul’s day, we are all “part of the same body and … enjoy the promise of blessings because [we] belong to Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:6 NLT). One body. One family. One church.
Father, thank You for saving me, but more importantly, thank You for placing me in Your family, the Church. Give me a growing appreciation for just how rich and diverse the Church really is. Never let me lose sight of the miracle of grace that has brought together so many who are so different under one common cause and all as a result of Your great love and Christ’s great sacrifice. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men