27 Jun God’s Work and Our Role
In the vast tapestry of human life and endeavor, we often find ourselves pondering our place within the grand scheme. We wrestle with feelings of unworthiness, and yet, there is a remarkable, soothing balm for this human condition—the divine grace of God. It’s this profound grace that acknowledges our unworthiness yet raises us to participate in His extraordinary work. This grace isn’t a token of our merit; it’s a testament to God’s boundless love, a privilege that underscores the true essence of the Christian faith.
In the third chapter of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul beautifully illuminates this truth. As an ambassador of Christ, he navigates the profound mystery of God’s grace, unveiling the divine plan that makes us, in all our human imperfections, vital participants in His divine agenda. The chapter provides a sweeping exploration of this theme, revealing God’s gracious gift that allows us to partake in His work, enriching our understanding of our privileged role in the divine plan. Through the words of Paul, we’re invited to embrace our own unworthiness, bask in the generosity of God’s grace, and contemplate our privileged role in the grand design of our Creator.
In the presence of divine holiness, the reality of human unworthiness becomes palpable. As finite beings bound by the limitations of our mortal existence, we fall short of the infinite perfection of God. Our actions, thoughts, and motivations, however noble, are tainted by imperfection and marred by our inherent capacity for error. It is this dichotomy between human fallibility and divine purity that highlights our inherent unworthiness.
Yet, within this stark contrast lies the very heart of the Christian message—the concept of grace. Grace is the divine mechanism that bridges the chasm between our unworthiness and God’s righteousness. It is an unmerited favor, a gift born out of His love and bestowed upon us, not because we have earned it, but because God, in His infinite kindness, has chosen to give it.
In Ephesians 3, the apostle Paul delves into the profound implications of this grace. He refers to the “mystery” that has been made known to him by revelation (Ephesians 3:3), a mystery that centers on the encompassing nature of God’s grace. It extends not only to the Jews, the original recipients of God’s promise, but also to the Gentiles, who were traditionally considered outsiders. This inclusion, solely based on God’s grace, speaks volumes about the comprehensive and all-embracing character of God’s grace.
In Ephesians 3:8, Paul refers to himself as “the least of all the saints,” and yet, he has been given the grace to preach to the Gentiles the “unsearchable riches of Christ.” This serves as a reminder that God’s grace, as vast and as rich as it is, is available to everyone, regardless of their status or worthiness. It reveals the beautiful paradox at the heart of the Christian faith—although we are unworthy, God’s grace empowers us to partake in His divine work, not because of who we are, but because of who He is.
The Work is God’s, Not Ours
One of the most humbling and liberating truths within the Christian faith is the concept that the work of salvation belongs wholly to God, not to us. It is God who initiates, God who sustains, and God who completes this sacred work. Despite our best intentions or efforts, we cannot earn our salvation, nor can we contribute to its completion. It is solely the product of God’s grace and power. This is not a cause for despair but a profound source of joy and freedom. We are not the architects of our salvation; rather, we are the beneficiaries of God’s unmatched love and grace.
Ephesians 3:7 presents a vivid picture of this concept. Paul describes himself as a “minister” or servant of the gospel, a role he didn’t achieve through personal merit but received “by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of His power.” Paul, once an adversary of Christ, is now an ambassador of the Gospel, not by his effort but by God’s transformative grace. This further cements the understanding that the work is entirely God’s, and we are merely stewards of His grace and truth.
Recognizing this truth is pivotal in shaping our Christian walk. Our role in the divine scheme is not to accomplish but to participate and cooperate. This understanding frees us from the burden of trying to earn our salvation or impress God with our deeds. Instead, it allows us to respond in joyful obedience, to let God’s grace flow through us and accomplish His will. We become collaborators with God, vessels through which His love and grace can touch the world. Our duty is not to make things happen, but to be receptive, responsive, and cooperative to God’s action in us and through us.
The Privilege of Participation
Participating in God’s work is more than an invitation—it is a profound privilege. As believers, we are invited to play a role in the divine narrative, not as passive spectators, but as active participants. This participation, however, is not a right that we’ve earned, but a privilege granted out of God’s immense grace and love. It’s this privilege that makes our Christian walk an adventure, a journey punctuated by divine interactions and filled with eternal implications.
In Ephesians 3:8-10, Paul sheds light on this privilege. Despite considering himself ‘the least of all the saints,’ he was given the grace to share the ‘unsearchable riches of Christ’ and to illuminate the mystery hidden for ages. The mystery that Gentiles are co-heirs, part of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus. It’s a testimony to the fact that God’s divine plan encompasses everyone, and His riches in Christ Jesus are available to all who believe.
God’s strategy of using ordinary, seemingly unworthy people to enact His divine will and display His manifold wisdom is not just evident in the life of Paul but echoes throughout the history of the Church. Consider John Newton, the author of the hymn “Amazing Grace.” Newton was a former slave trader, a man steeped in the darkest corners of human sin and suffering. Yet, God’s grace found him, transformed him, and used him to pen one of the most profound hymns of Christian history. This hymn, a testament to God’s amazing grace, has comforted millions and pointed countless hearts towards God.
The story of Newton and many others emphasize that God does not call the equipped, but He equips the called. Irrespective of our past, our failures, or our unworthiness, God can and will use us in His grand design, offering us the privilege to participate in His divine work. This participation, borne out of God’s grace, transforms our ordinary lives into extraordinary testimonies of His manifold wisdom and love.
Living in Light of This Truth
Embracing the truths of our unworthiness, God’s grace, His divine work, and our privilege of participation offers transformative implications for our daily Christian walk. These truths serve not as abstract theological concepts but as practical principles guiding our thoughts, actions, and attitudes.
Firstly, understanding our unworthiness fosters a spirit of humility. Recognizing that we are recipients of God’s grace despite our flaws, humbles us and allows us to approach others with compassion and kindness, knowing we too are in need of grace.
Secondly, these truths encourage us to value our role in God’s work. Whether our part appears small or significant in human eyes, we should humbly accept and appreciate the task given to us. We are all threads in the divine tapestry God is weaving. No role is insignificant in His grand design.
Furthermore, knowing the work is God’s empowers us to release the burden of striving in our strength. It is not about our abilities or efforts, but God’s power working through us. When we surrender our efforts to Him, we allow His strength to work through our weaknesses, creating a space for God to perform His transformative work.
Finally, embracing God’s grace leads us to a life of gratitude and joy. As we contemplate the depth of God’s unmerited favor towards us, our hearts overflow with thankfulness, our lives become a living testament of His love, and our actions a reflection of His grace.
In conclusion, living in light of these truths invites us into a vibrant, fulfilling Christian journey. It encourages us to walk humbly, work faithfully, rely on God’s strength, and live gratefully, knowing we are privileged participants in God’s divine work, a grace-filled adventure of eternal significance.
Embracing The Journey Ahead
As we traverse the path of understanding, we encounter fundamental themes that reshape our perception of the Christian life. Our inherent unworthiness, underscored by our human limitations, presents a stark contrast to the divine holiness of God. Yet, it is in this very dichotomy that the breathtaking beauty of God’s grace emerges. This grace, freely bestowed, forms the bridge that connects our unworthiness to God’s righteousness and ushers us into a role we could never earn—the privilege of participating in God’s divine work.
The journey through Ephesians 3 offers a profound exploration of these truths. It serves as an invitation to contemplate the deep mysteries of our faith, unravel the unsearchable riches of Christ, and grasp the boundless dimensions of God’s love.
As you move forward, consider revisiting Ephesians 3, allowing its profound truths to echo in your heart and shape your understanding. Embrace the grace of God as put on display through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He lived the life you could never live and died the death you deserved. He exchanged his perfection for your sin. For those who put their trust in Him, God the Father now looks upon you as if you lived the perfect life that Jesus did. This is profound as it frees us from the idea that we have to somehow work hard to earn God’s favor.
Your favor was purchased at the cross. You’re now free to walk in the privilege Jesus granted to you, and embark on the extraordinary adventure of participating in God’s divine plan. After all, the Christian journey is not about our adequacy but His grace, not about our worthiness but His love, and not about our work but His divine orchestration. May we each find joy and fulfillment in the humbling and exhilarating privilege of being part of God’s glorious work.
Sermon & Sandwiches
Reflecting on a sermon after it’s been delivered offers the opportunity to deepen our understanding and allows its truths to take root in our hearts. Engaging in a conversation about the sermon can foster further insights and promote spiritual growth. Below are some conversation starters to help facilitate such a discussion:
- How have you personally experienced the grace of God in your life, especially in moments when you felt particularly unworthy?
- Can you share an instance where you felt God was using you in His work, despite your feeling of unworthiness or inadequacy?
- Ephesians 3 talks about the mystery of God’s grace extending to all people. How does this truth shape your understanding of God’s love and grace?
- How do you feel about the idea that the work of salvation is God’s, not ours? How does it impact your perspective on your role in His divine plan?
- In what ways have you experienced the ‘unsearchable riches of Christ’ in your own life?
- Can you think of a historical or contemporary figure whose life story reminds you that God often uses ordinary, seemingly unworthy people for His purposes?
- How does understanding our role not to accomplish but to participate in God’s work change your approach to your daily Christian walk?
- What practical changes can we make in our daily lives to reflect the truth that we are privileged participants in God’s divine work?
- How can we foster a greater sense of humility and gratitude in response to God’s grace in our lives?
- How do you think our relationships, our community, and our world would change if everyone understood and lived out the truths presented in Ephesians 3?
The Daily Devotion
Monday – Exploring Our Unworthiness
Read Ephesians 3:1-13 and Romans 3:23-24. Spend time in prayer acknowledging your unworthiness in the light of God’s holiness. Journal your thoughts about these passages and how they highlight the contrast between human fallibility and divine purity.
Tuesday – God’s Grace
Meditate on Ephesians 2:8-9 and Ephesians 3:7-8. Reflect on the concept of God’s grace that bridges the gap between our unworthiness and His righteousness. Write a prayer of gratitude for God’s grace in your life.
Wednesday – God’s Work, Not Ours
Read Ephesians 3:7 and Philippians 2:13. Contemplate how the work of salvation is God’s, not ours. Write a commitment to relinquish your efforts to God and rely on His power in your life.
Thursday – The Privilege of Participation
Study Ephesians 3:8-10 and 1 Corinthians 1:26-29. Consider how God uses ordinary, seemingly unworthy people for His divine purpose. Journal about a time when you felt God used you in His work despite feeling unworthy or inadequate.
Friday – Living in Light of This Truth
Reflect on Ephesians 3:14-21 and 2 Corinthians 12:9. Ponder on how understanding our unworthiness, God’s grace, His work, and our privilege to participate can influence our daily Christian walk. Write a prayer asking God to help you live in light of these truths, relying on His strength and embracing His grace.
Parents, guiding your children to understand essential truths about God’s grace, our unworthiness, and the privilege of being part of His work can have lifelong impacts. Here’s a simple guide to help you dive into these topics in a way kids can understand.
- God Loves Us No Matter What: Start by reminding your kids that God’s love for us is immeasurable and unconditional. Even when we make mistakes (which reminds us of our unworthiness), God still loves us. Ask your kids, “Can you think of a time when you did something wrong, but you were still loved?”
- The Gift of God’s Grace: Explain that grace is like getting a gift you didn’t earn or deserve. It’s like receiving an ice-cream sundae on a day you didn’t clean your room as promised. God gives us the best gift ever—His love and forgiveness—even when we make mistakes. Ask, “How do you feel when you get a gift, especially when you know you didn’t earn it?”
- God’s Big Work and Our Part in It: Use the analogy of a big puzzle. God is putting together a big puzzle (His work), and He gives each of us a piece to place. We don’t make the puzzle, but we get to help. Even though we sometimes feel like our puzzle piece is too small to matter, every piece is needed to complete the picture. Ask your kids, “How do you feel when you contribute to something big, like cleaning up the house or a group project at school?”
- Grace Gift: Have your child give a small ‘gift of grace’ to someone in the family when they least expect it or feel they least deserve it—a kind note, a chore done on behalf, or a hug. This tangible act can help them understand the concept of grace.
- Puzzle Time: Do a puzzle together. As you each place pieces, talk about how God uses each of us in His big plan, no matter how ‘small’ we feel.
Remember, these discussions and activities should be a joyful exploration of God’s love and grace. Let’s teach our children about the amazing privilege we have to be part of God’s work in the world.