1Because of this, I Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles, 2if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of the grace of God that was given to me for you, 3how the mystery was made known to me according to revelation, as I have written a little. 4When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5which was not made known to the sons of man in other generations as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6To be specific—the Gentiles are sharing together and members of the same body and participants in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7I was made a servant according to the gift of the grace of God that was given to me according to the working of His power. 8To me, the least of all saints, was given this grace, to preach to the Gentiles the good news of the fathomless riches of Christ, 9and to enlighten everyone what is the plan of the mystery that was hidden from the ages in God Who created all things, 10in order that the variegated wisdom of God would presently be made known through the church to the powers and authorities in the heavenly places, 11according to the eternal purpose He realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12in Whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him. 13Therefore I ask you not to become discouraged in my afflictions on your behalf, which are your glory.
Paul explains how God’s purpose is reconciliation—of man to Himself, and of man to man. He identifies himself as someone who was born to be a servant of this reconciliatory power, and argues that his entire purpose on the earth is as a servant of that power. Moreover, Paul identifies the church as the vehicle through which the cosmic powers of the world will hear of the powers and wisdom of God Almighty (10). It is not through prophets and apostles or charismatic leaders or superstar people, but through the church that God has ordained that the witness of His wisdom and power be supplied:
“God’s intent was that now, through the church, ‘the variegated wisdom of God would presently be made known through the church to the powers and authorities in the heavenly places.’ It is not Paul or the other apostles or prophets who announce the mystery of Christ to the heavenly powers. Rather, the crucial task of making known God’s wisdom to the powers now belongs to the church, to the people of God together. If you were to ask a hundred Christians, ‘Why does the church exist? You’d hear about worship and witness, community and caring, discipleship and doing justice. But I doubt you’d hear one person say, ‘the church exists to make God’s manifold wisdom known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.’ Yet according to Paul, this is central to the church’s calling and God’s eternal purpose’ (Roberts).
Isn’t that interesting? As a gathered group of people, we in the church have a singular mission: the proclamation of the power and wisdom of God to the cosmic forces. Just by existing—specifically, by being together—we achieve this mission. Those forces in the heavenly places hear us loud and clear when we are gathered. There is a God-ordained force and power in our “gathered-ness” that is beyond anything a single individual could do.
How does this fact change the way you see “church?” How does change the way you go about “doing church” or doing the things you do for church? Think carefully about this today.