God’s Marvelous Plan for the Gentiles
3 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—
2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ,9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
A Prayer for the Ephesians
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
The church was the first institution in history to bring together Jews and Gentiles, men and women, slaves and free, all on equal ground. “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” By forming a community out of diverse members, Paul said, we have the opportunity to capture the attention of the world. Christ always meant for the church, as a body of people, to be the primary tool for sharing the good news of Christ. One person alone does not have all the necessary gifts to draw someone to Christ, but the church collectively demonstrates a mysterious beauty that can only be found when we are together.
In some ways we, the church have failed at this assignment. Yet, healthy churches are still a place where Christ is known and the Holy Spirit is alive and vibrant. Churches can be places where people of different ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status, and gender all come together on a regular basis. Healthy churches are also hubs of sending forth. They send out their people to do the work of Christ, to be the hands and feet of the church, to love others where they are. These vibrant churches are where people recognize that differences and uniqueness in individuals make us stronger as a group.
Henri Nouwen, a great Priest and Pastor, wrote often about community. He likens it to a Mosaic that, “consists of thousands of little stones. Some are blue, some are green, some are yellow, some are gold. When we bring our faces close to the mosaic, we can admire the beauty of each stone. But as we step back from it, we can see that all these little stones reveal to us a beautiful picture, telling a story none of these stones can tell by itself. That is what our life in community is about. Each of us is like a little stone, but together we reveal the face of God to the world. Nobody can say: ‘I make God visible.’ But others who see us together can say: ‘They make God visible.’ Community is where humility and glory touch.”
He also taught that "Community is the place where the person you least want to live with always lives.” It is not easy to spend your time with people you don’t know or perhaps don’t really want to know. But that is our calling. We can’t do this Christ-following thing alone. When we surround ourselves with the people we most want to live with, people most like us, we form a club. Anyone can form a club, but it takes grace, vision, and appreciation of the other to form a community. I encourage you to assess your current role in the church. Are you active in a healthy body of Christ? Are you seeking only those like you, or are you reaching out to create community with those who might be a “stone of a different color”?
God, make me an instrument of your grace in the world. Show me how to be a servant to others in big and small ways. Bring people into my life who will love me unconditionally and help guide me with your wisdom. Give me a community where I may grow deeper in love with you and others. Show me the areas where I need to adapt, grow and mature, and let your Holy Spirit guide me on the path toward a deeper faith. Thank you for your daily grace and mercy. In the name of the Creator, the Savior and the Guide, Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.