Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"New Revelation in Christ" - Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending May 17, 2009

Purpose: To proclaim against all opposition that the church be a diverse community of persons demonstrating God's impartiality and love for all people.

Scripture Text: Ephesians 3:1-13 (NRSV)

Ephesians 3:1-13
(1)This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— (2) for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given to me for you, (3) and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, (4) a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. (5)In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: (6) that are the Gentiles have become fellow-heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

(7) Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the working of his power. (8)Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles th
e news of the boundless riches of Christ, (9) and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; (10) so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. (11)This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, (12) in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him. (13) I pray therefore that you may not lose heart over my sufferings for you; they are your glory.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

As we continue in our study of Ephesians for the balance of this quarter, today's lesson provides a real challenge to each of us as well as our churches. As we have stated, in earlier commentary, Paul's reason for writing this
circular letter to the early churches of Asia was an effort to bring together both Greek and Jew in the body of Christ.

The point of this portion of scripture seems to be; we are all equal in God's sight, Jew, Greek or whatever we are (v6) “fellow heirs, members of the same body, sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel”. Paul reveals he has been given an understanding of the (v4) “mystery of Christ”.

Back in the book of Genesis in chapter 11, God had scattered the people and given them diversity in language because they were content to settle a small portion of his creation. God intended for all of us to be diverse and unique, God also intends for all of us to love one another. Our diversity is not something to make us afraid, but rather is something we should embrace, it is part of the mystery of God, and it is in our, (v10) rich variety that the rulers in “heavenly places” will realize that God's church has received the wisdom of God.

In verse 17 of this ch
apter, the writer says “and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love”. Paul seems to imply that the church's faith, and love for one another is what will separate them from the rest of God's creation.

From the beginning God had a plan, and that plan has been revealed to Paul and to the prophets, this mystery was hidden from the, (v5) “sons of men”. From the tower of Babel to the resurrection of Christ and the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, from the calling of one man named Abram an establishing a nation of separated people, all was part of God's plan. Who could be more diverse that the sons of Isaac, (Jacob and Esau) or even the sons of Jacob.

God wants us to be diverse, it is by showing our love for those that are different in culture, race, ethnicity, and even in beliefs, that we can show the world that the love of Christ in our hearts is what makes us part of God's family. I think that God calls his people to love those that are unloved and unlovely, those that may have a different sexual orientation than others, we are called to love them all, and I do not see any exceptions to God's law of love.

Is it ea
sier to love those that are different than us, or do you find it harder to love some of those you know more about? Can our knowledge of someone get in the way of our love? Why is Ephesians 3:17 so important in our ability to love?

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