Last Easter, I baked hot cross buns for my neighbours, and wrote cards explaining the meaning of the cross, hoping to bless them with the spiritual truth of the holiday.
But when the time came to distribute my gifts, I felt nervous. Were the cards too bold? What if they get offended? Have I been living in a way that would cause others to take my sharing seriously?
We often feel inadequate at sharing the gospel. We could be shrinking back because of pride, fear of man, lack of knowledge, apathy—and a host of other reasons. What then can embolden us to heed the call of the Great Commission?
In Ephesians 2:11-22, Paul had just described how God has reconciled both Jews and Gentiles—in effect, people of all nations—to Himself and to one another through Christ. He was about to launch into a heartfelt prayer for this new united body, but sidestepped into further reflection on the mystery of what God had done.
These days, we often forget that for a long time, salvation was believed to be only for the Jews. But God had intended to include the Gentiles since the beginning of time (v. 6). He simply chose to conceal it, like a good mystery story. And like any good mystery, God set this redemption plan into motion bit by bit throughout history, leaving clues and plot twists along the way, all the while obscuring the full picture—until the Church was birthed after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection at the Cross (v. 3–6).
For many of us, the fact that God would choose us to be part of His grand plan of reconciliation is a mystery. Paul himself was a “Hebrew of Hebrews” and zealous Pharisee (Philippians 3:5) who persecuted the church and was concerned with religious purity and Jewish interests. Such a history made him “less than the least of all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 3:8). He never would have thought that one day, he’d believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah, let alone that he would be called to preach Christ to the Gentiles.
But he knew that God had chosen him for His special mission, which enabled him to choose not to “lose heart” in the face of his sufferings (v. 13, ESV).
Seeing just how much God is in control of His grand plan also helps me fix my eyes on the bigger picture. Firstly, it was God who in His grace called me into His plan. Secondly, it is out of “the boundless riches of Christ” (v. 8) that God equips me for kingdom work. Thirdly, because God chose me, I am secure in Christ. My identity and calling are no longer dependent on my own efforts.
All God asks of me is to walk in faith and obedience, trusting in Him and the “working of His power” (v. 7). That is why, though I struggled, I still gave out the cards with the hot cross buns to my neighbour.
The culture we live in today is one that challenges our faith and beliefs, but when we remember that God, whose wisdom surpasses us all, is still in control, we can overcome our fears. Keeping our eyes on God can spur us to share the gospel with the same courage as Paul had.
Whatever you’re going through, I pray that you will not lose heart. May the truth and grace of God’s salvation plan and the knowledge that you can now “approach God with freedom and confidence” (v. 12) stir you with joy and embolden you to declare the “manifold wisdom of God” (v. 10).
—By Charmain Sim, Malaysia
Questions for reflection
Father, thank You for including me in Your salvation plan since the beginning of time. Give me the courage to walk with You in faith and obedience, and to boldly declare Your manifold wisdom to the world around me through my life, actions, and words.
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