For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles….
Ephesians 3:1 (NIV)
One’s perspective makes all the difference.
Having just journeyed through the season of Lent, I was reminded time and time again that Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, suffering and execution had been predicted. Jesus knew what was going to happen, and He made it clear to His followers. Despite this foreknowledge of what was to happen, Luke writes the Jesus “Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” (9:51)
Jesus wasn’t the victim. He was driving the events that happened. He was on a mission.
As I’ve been studying the events surrounding Paul in the Book of Acts, there is a very clear parallel to Jesus’ story. Paul was a citizen of Rome. It was a rare status that afforded him all sorts of privileges. When Paul was arrested and put on trial, he could have easily gotten off. Instead he appealed his case to Caesar assuring that he would be taken prisoner to Rome. As he waited for his trial before the leader of the Roman Empire, he wrote letters. Ephesians is one of them.
I couldn’t help but notice in today’s chapter that Paul doesn’t call himself a “prisoner of Rome,” but rather a “prisoner of Christ Jesus.” Paul, like Jesus whom he followed, does not see himself as a victim of circumstances, but a servant of Christ. He’s not a victim. He’s on a mission. There is no moaning about his imprisonment. He tells the believers in Ephesus not to be discouraged by his sufferings. The entire chapter is focused on God’s eternal, cosmic, Spirit-ual, Level 4 power:
- “God’s grace given me through the working of his power” (vs. 7)
- “boundless riches of Christ” (vs. 8)
- “God, who created all things” (vs. 9)
- “the manifold wisdom of God” (vs. 10)
- “[God] from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name” (vs. 15)
- “out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit” (vs. 16)
- “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (vs. 18)
- “this love that surpasses knowledge” (vs. 19)
- “him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (vs. 20)
This morning in the quiet I’m thinking about the perspective with which I approach my own circumstances. Am I walking this life journey as a person who happens to claim to be a follower of Jesus but then lives my life as if I’m a victim of random earthly circumstance? Or, am I on a mission, as well? Like Jesus, like Paul, is my faith-journey propelling me to a larger purpose and mission rooted in Level 4 power and purpose?
“Your mission, should you choose to accept it….”