Ephesians 3:1 "For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles— 2 if indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you, 3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, 4 by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), 5 which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by ...the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets: 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, 7 of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power."
Granted to a 21st century person this passage is rather vague and apparently irrelevant. We are as it were strangers reading a letter from a man we don't know to people we don't know in a time and place we are not familiar with.
It is important to know Paul was first Saul. He was a strict Jew of the sect of the Pharisees. He also had strong ties to Greece and was well familiar with the Uncircumcised Gentile world.
As Saul the Jew he hated Christianity. He was actively involved in hunting them down and eliminating them. For the majority of Jews, especially the Pharisees, the Christians were a hated threat to all that was proper Judaism and needed to be eliminated. In Acts 7 and 8 we find Saul participating in the public stoning of Stephen, a Christian leader in Jerusalem. In Acts 9 we find him setting out for Damascus to hunt down more Christians.
On the way God does something highly unusual. He stops Saul in his tracks with a vision of Himself and speaks to him audibly and directly. Physically blinded by the encounter he comes away from it a changed man. One moment a killer of Christ followers he is now a follower of the same Christ.
For a modern spin you can more easily relate to, he went from being an ISIS leader to a Christian because of his encounter with Jesus Himself.
A changed man he has a new mission. To let the Gentile world know that the God of Abraham is their God too and the carpenter's son from Nazareth whose fame reached the known world was God in human flesh. The grace and mercy and forgiveness He provided through His life and death is as much theirs as anyone else's.
Radical. From Pakistan to Iran, from China to Washington DC, from Moscow to Sydney and all over the globe grace has been provided in Jesus. Hamas? Yes. KKK? Yes. ISIS? Yes. To all who respond. No borders. No walls. No religious divide. No cultural chasm.
"For God so loved the world (all of it) that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believeth in Him will not die but have everlasting life..."
See - this ancient letter is extremely relevant. As hate and intolerance ramps up it becomes all the more so.
See you tomorrow.