By David Radcliff (Director, New Community Project)
Ephesians 3:1-13 “…the mystery of Christ…revealed by the Spirit…”
I admit I almost always prefer the gospels – the story of Jesus’ radical life of reaching out to the poor, the young, the sick, the hungry, the outcast – and angering the authorities in the process – rather than Paul’s writings – someone who mostly focused on Jesus’ death and organizing life in the new church. So I was a bit disappointed to see my assigned text from Ephesians. HOWEVER, when I read this passage, I saw that Paul, too, had a radical streak. First, he’s writing from jail – so he must’ve been doing something right to make people that mad at him. And he then writes of a “mystery” – hmmm…mysterious. What is it? That God’s love is for all, and that Jesus welcomes everyone into his church. This was scandalous in those days, as God was thought to be reserved only for the Jewish people. And the Romans had their gods, and the Greeks had theirs, and… you get the drift. So to have one God who welcomes all people – well, that was a page out of Jesus’ playbook. And of course it’s just as scandalous today. Churches often make a name for themselves more by who they keep out than by who they let in. And political leaders get elected by lifting up one group – race, income, religion – above others. A Brethren girl I know got in trouble with her friends by standing up for the poor. That didn’t stop her.
Good News: It’s no mystery – God loves everyone, and all are welcome among Jesus’ followers.
Discussion Question: Is it human nature to form exclusive groups? Why do we do it? Have you ever stood up for someone who is seen by others as “unworthy” – made fun of or otherwise pushed out? Think of a time when Jesus got in trouble for including someone others wanted to exclude.
Go one step further: Jesus welcomed women into his movement and treated them with respect. Today, girls and women around the world are often treated like second class citizens. On this page, there’s a zoom presentation telling about trafficking, bride burning, poverty and other things that affect girls – and what we can do about it. https://www.newcommunityproject.info/give-a-girl-a-chance