Passage: Ephesians 3:8-13
This grace was given to me—the least of all the saints—to proclaim to the Gentiles the incalculable riches of Christ, 9 and to shed light for all about the administration of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things. 10 This is so that God’s multi-faceted wisdom may now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavens. 11 This is according to his eternal purpose accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him we have boldness and confident access through faith in him. 13 So then I ask you not to be discouraged over my afflictions on your behalf, for they are your glory. Ephesians 3:8-13
Ministry can be hard. God saves a lot of dysfunctional and difficult people who bring their dysfunction to church, challenging the pastor and leaders. The demands often seem to exceed our resources and there is no way you can ever get all of your work done. It is exhausting and frustrating and all of that.
But in today’s passage, Paul reminds us of something else. In verse 13, he admits that his life is not exactly going great at this point. He is a prisoner. This book was likely written during the years of Paul’s time in Rome, awaiting his first trial. He wasn’t exactly in a dark dungeon but it wasn’t a white collar clubhouse jail either. No one wanted to live this way. And the only reason he was imprisoned was because of his faith in Christ. The Jewish leaders had sought to kill him because of his work of ministry.
So, Paul’s life was tough because of the gospel, but he wasn’t about to complain. He called his life a “grace given to me.” It was a privilege to be imprisoned for Christ. He saw the message of Christ as life’s ultimate treasure chest – the “incalculable riches of Christ” – which would shed light for all, revealing the mystery hidden for ages in God. God was working to fulfill his eternal purposes in Christ and Paul considered it an amazing privilege to be considered a voice of that mystery.
I can get overwhelmed and discouraged, but when I do it will do me well to remind myself that I am a guide on the greatest treasure hunt of history. God chose to offer salvation to a lost world through his son and to call me to lead people to faith in Christ. I have the privilege of proclaiming incalculable riches – not some pyramid fraud designed to bilk my hearers, but the word of life that will change their life. On my worst day I am blessed beyond words.
Of course, it is not only those who are called to (sorry for the old-fashioned term) “vocational ministry” who carry this blessing. We all are given this grace. The Christian life is not only about my struggle to live a holy life, but my calling to be a minister of grace, a guide on the great eternal treasure hunt.
It’s a wonderful life.