Monday, February 22, 2010

Even Paul digressed occasionally...

Particularly in Ephesians 3:1-13, which is, technically, a digression.

He starts the chapter saying "For this reason, I Paul...." but then he gets sidetracked recounting parts of his testimony and the way God had worked in his own life, calling him to be the apostle to The Nations. He doesn't resume the initial thought until verse 14 when he starts again, "For this reason I bow my knee before the Father."

This is what I think happened...

Paul had just finished writing chapter two, a thoughtfully crafted chapter about the effects of the gospel. The gospel takes us from dead in our sins to alive in Christ, from hostility and alienation to peace and fellow citizenship in the kingdom of God. His mind is entranced with the glory of God and the wonder of the grace that is ours in Christ. Now, he's getting ready to pray for the Ephesians. As an opening to his prayer he casually mentions his name and title as the one who is getting ready to intercede in prayer, "I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles."

But as his mind was already saturated with the new-creation-power of the gospel, his name caught in his mind, and caused him to remember how the gospel had worked in his life. He was, after all, one of the greatest examples of the gospel breaking down hostility and replacing it with gospel zeal.

He used to be Saul, now Paul.
He used to imprison those who loved Christ, now he is a prisoner of Christ himself.
He used to hate the Gentiles, now he loved them enough to suffer on their behalf so that some might come to Christ.

The wonderfully intricate theology of chapter two is not meant so that we can simply become intellectually informed. It is written so that we might worship, so that we might love Christ more. Paul moves from considering theology in the abstract, to marveling about how it had personally affected him, how he had been changed by the love of Christ, and how the power of the gospel had overcome even his own considerable hostilities.

What's your testimony? Have you worshiped God for the life changing power of the Holy Spirit working in your life? Have you taken time to digress from the routine details of life, and your routine prayers, to think personally about the life changing grace of God who loves you?

No comments: