We should celebrate more

Ephesians 3:1-12
Today is Ephiphany!

I remember first learning about the different festivals and holidays of the church. Christians around the world keep celebrating long past Christmas Day. When I discovered that, I wondered what was wrong with us. We are prone to open gifts on Christmas morning and almost immediately begin moving on.

All the while, our sisters and brothers in other parts of the world continue honoring the magnificence of the Incarnation. Epiphany is only one way they do so. I’d encourage you to look up ways Christians celebrate this holy day.

In the meantime, let’s reflect on mystery.

That’s part of what we recall on Epiphany. In Christ, God revealed the mystery hidden for ages. It wasn’t that God was keeping something from us. In fact, as we learn the Bible more we can see a pattern emerge. God was showing us where we were going. We knew what to look for. Even the wise men knew something was happening in the cosmos.

Think of how excited people were when John the Baptist began preaching. They understood God had always had this time in mind. That’s why many people flocked to Jesus, too. Yes, he healed many and taught with power. But people could imagine how all that fit into what God had prepared them for.

Of course, there was more to see and understand. Fast forward to the apostle Paul.

He understood his ministry in light of the revelation of Jesus. You’ll remember how he met the Lord. His eyes opened to the realization of Christ. So, his life’s purpose became to share the good news of Jesus to the Gentiles. This is the great mystery he feels blessed to share.

God had always planned to incorporate all humanity into the family of God. We couldn’t always see that. We didn’t know that could be possible outside of the covenant God made with the Israelites. In Jesus, though, the revelation came.

So, now what?

I love how The Message Bible translates Ephesians 3:7. It reads, “This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message.” He’ll go on to say the church shares a similar purpose (3:10). But here’s the part I think we need to rethink.

Ephesians 3:9 says that Paul wants “to make everyone see what is the plan.” Many of us feel as if we should “make” people believe. How do you make someone do anything? Jesus made Paul see, of course. Are you and your church able to do something like that? No. And we’re not called to “make” people do anything. The sense of verse 9 is not that we force our belief on anyone. We certainly don’t shame anyone either. Instead, we shed light on what God has done.

Yes, that can mean that we teach something. But we’re also shining a light. 

That’s part of the reason why we need more celebrations. We need to wonder more together at what God has done in Jesus. What light can we bring if our own hearts have yet to be illuminated by this mystery?

Contemplate what God revealed to us. What does that mean for you? For your church? How is that revelation supposed to shape your ministry and world perspective? Even how you see other people?

Give glory to God and celebrate the mystery!

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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