Ephesians 6:19 "and (pray) for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
21 But that you also may know my affairs and how I am doing, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make all things known to you; 22 whom I have sent to you for this very purpose, that you may know our affairs, and that he may comfort your hearts.
23 Peace to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen."
I love the very personal yet understated way Ephesians ends. Paul acknowledges they will want to know how he is doing yet he says nothing about himself. This is the heart of a true preacher. Jesus is magnified while the preacher fades into the background.
What I really want to focus on today as we conclude the letter to the Ephesians is the prayer request Paul makes. As powerfully as Paul writes you wouldn't think he would be a man who needs or lacks boldness. Yet in his very short request for the prayerful support of the Ephesians he asks for boldness twice. He wants boldness to speak, to open his mouth, to make known the mystery of the gospel.
Paul was after all human. He too experienced fear and shyness and the frustration of not knowing how or what to say in a brief moment that may soon pass and be gone forever. He knew the frustration of walking through crowds of strangers who desperately needed Jesus yet didn't even know His name. Paul knew what it was like to live in affluent cities surrounded by people who's every breath was subsidized by Jesus yet His death on the cross was entirely unknown to them or was just a weird religious footnote of history that had no bearing on their lives.
In the book of Acts the disciples are regularly asking God for boldness and Paul who seems to be the boldest of them all is asking for the same thing. I know how they feel. I know what it's like to want to so desperately have others know Him yet not know how or when to say anything. I know how maddening it is to see people running here and there trying to make this earth their home when it's but a shadow of Home. I know how helpless I feel against a culture that is increasingly hostile toward the only One who truly loves them.
I get it. Religion/bad Christianity has done a number on people. There is a lot more misrepresentation of Jesus by "Christians" than truth revealing. Exploitation, war, racism, sexism, etc... all done under the banner of "representing Jesus". There has always been and will always be bad religion just as there will always be the genuine product and a plethora of cheap knock offs.
None of this changes the fact that there is only One Jesus and He is amazing. It's true that over 50% of marriages end in divorce and of those who remain married the majority are less than happy. However tell the ones who are happy, the ones who get it, the ones who understand what true love is and know how to give love and receive love, tell them marriage doesn't work...
Tell Paul there is no Jesus while he sings His praises in a dingy dark rat infested prison cell. Tell him the miracles he has lived are just random events explained away by rare phenomena. Tell Dan Wilson Jesus isn't real. Tell him the miracles he has experienced were just fluke. Tell him the One who speaks to him in a variety of ways is just his own overactive imagination. Tell him the lives he has seen change were just the result of will power. Tell him the increasing love he has in his heart for people who are by outward appearances unlovable is just the sentimentality of the aging process. Tell him all you want... it will only serve to cause him to seek what Paul was seeking - more boldness.
The odds may be against the Gospel but once you've known Him there is no unseeing what you've seen or unhearing what you've heard.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. There's just something about that Name...