Ephesians 1:7-12 says,
In him (Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth…
Did you catch all of that? Did you notice all the wonderful gifts we’ve been given in Christ? We have redemption, forgiveness, and knowledge of the mystery of His will!
And what’s the mystery of His will? It is to unite all things under one wounded head . . . giving meaning to each and every event in your life and meaning to all things.
Wow! . . . all things united in Christ . . . everyone redeemed through His blood, everyone forgiven, everyone lavished with gifts from God and invited to the party! That’s good news . . . right?
Well, for some reason, that actually doesn’t always sound like great news to many. It seems that we all like the idea of redemption (for ourselves and those we love), forgiveness (for ourselves and those we love), knowledge of the mystery of God’s will (for ourselves and those we love) . . . But wait . . .? He’s including everyone!??
Have you found that preaching that message doesn’t always go over very well? The good news doesn’t really seem that good to many people? Why is that?
Well, I think that’s because God’s doing some heart work on all of us, and some paradigm shifting in all us. We’ve come to understand our world in one way, a fallen way, and He’s renewing our mind. He’s giving us His heart and His mind—and that’s not always comfortable.
I’ll show you what I mean: Imagine if this weekend your favorite sports team is playing in a game. There’s a lot at stake: if your team wins there will be all sorts of pomp and glory and an amazing prize. But . . . what if, during the middle of the game, a referee was to run onto the playing field, blow his whistle and say, “I have an announcement; I love you all and so I hereby declare: you are all winners, and you will each inherit the prize. Game over. It’s time to party. This is my final judgment.”
So . . . what do you think the response might be? How would you feel about that kind of judgment: “ALL win the prize! Even those who didn’t earn it”? How would the people you share that news with feel about it? Would they be happy with the referee’s judgment?
In reality, the gospel message is a lot like that. The mystery of the gospel, which Paul felt compelled to preach is that, in Christ, God set forth a plan to “unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth,” (Eph. 1) a plan that we would all be “members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus,” (Eph. 3) a plan that one day we all would know “There is one God and Father of all…” (Eph 4).
So . . . are you happy with God’s judgment? If so , are the people that you share that message with happy about it? Well . . . I think that depends on the person hearing the message thinks life is all about.
“As Christians, we often tend to think that life’s all about how we play the game. We tend to think it’s all about winning the game and getting it all right—as if Jesus came to give us better strategies and better plays for playing the game and winning the game. But it’s really not about the game; it’s about the party after the game. In fact, none of us wins the game. Jesus wins the game.
Do you see? Jesus wins the game, and Jesus won the game. And yet, He wasn’t even playing the same game. We were playing ‘Beat Your Neighbor’, and Jesus was playing ‘Save Your Neighbor,’ and beat the old game of beating your neighbor. In fact, turn that old game of beating your neighbor into a party.”—P.H.
You know? The people Paul preached the reconciliation of all to didn’t always receive him warmly. In Ephesians 6:19 we read that he was an “ambassador in chains” for proclaiming the mystery of the gospel.
But really, it’s no wonder that Paul was imprisoned for sharing the mystery, and it’s no wonder that it won’t always be warmly accepted. Even today, as we share that message, the powers of this world hate the proclamation of the mystery of God’s will because it is judgment upon the game. And yet, their hatred of it just testifies to the power of it—the power to set captives free, to unite all things under one wounded head—the power of Christ unto salvation . . . not just for some but for all.
There are no losers, only winners.
Keep proclaiming that.
Proclaim that to yourself and let it sink deep into your heart.
Proclaim that to those around you . . . even if you find yourself being opposed, and even if you, like Paul, become an ambassador in chains. Do not fear, for you have nothing to fear; Jesus has won. You are no longer a slave (Heb. 2:14-15); you are His ambassador (2 Cor. 5:20).
The victory is His.
He has won.
It’s time to let the world know they’re invited to the party.
*This devotional was written by Kimberly Weynen, Peter Hiett’s assistant. It was inspired by the sermon “Prayer For Proclaiming the Mystery.” To read, watch or listen to that sermon in its entirety visit here: “Prayer For Proclaiming the Mystery.”
Discussion questions for this devotional are available here: Discussion Questions “Prayer For Proclaiming the Mystery”