Today’s Reading: Ephesians 3
I knew her for more than a decade. When she finally accepted Jesus into her life, I asked her, “How did it happen? We talked about Jesus a lot, but why did you finally commit your life to Him? And then you just stopped living a lifestyle you knew was destructive. How did all this happen?”
She looked at me and smiled. “You never told me what I was doing was wrong. You told me how right Jesus is. You just kept talking about Jesus.” She was saying in essence that Jesus was so attractive, why would she want anyone or anything else?
That is Paul’s message in Ephesians 3:
“This is my life work: helping people understand and respond to this Message. It came as a sheer gift to me, a real surprise, God handling all the details. When it came to presenting the Message to people who had no background in God’s way, I was the least qualified of any of the available Christians. God saw to it that I was equipped, but you can be sure that it had nothing to do with my natural abilities. And so here I am, preaching and writing about things that are way over my head, the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:7-8, MSG)
Paul wants to talk about Jesus—“the inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ.” The New American Standard Bible calls it “the unfathomable riches of Christ.” Too often we want to talk about other things. Author D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones says: “A great danger confronting us all at the present time is to keep on talking about Christianity instead of talking about the Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul said talk about Jesus.
Christianity has never been about encountering the right church but the right Person. I know sin is awful. But sin really speaks for itself through its consequences. Our culture may not call it sin, but they know consequences for wrong actions. We live in a society and a time that has misinterpreted and misrepresented Jesus. Why make the bulk of our preaching and sharing be about how awful something is (when people already know), when they don’t realize how wonderful Jesus is?
I want people to see the real Jesus and know about the real Jesus, not the twenty-first-century Jesus, not the Western Jesus, not the denominational Jesus, and not the religious Jesus. Famed Christian writer Dorothy Sayers talked about the real Jesus:
The people who hanged Christ never . . . accused Him of being a bore—on the contrary; they thought Him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left for later generations to muffle up. . . . We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified Him “meek and mild,” and recommended Him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies.
Let’s consider some of the impressive records Jesus inspired. I read recently about someone who took Jesus and stacked Him against the greatest painters, musicians, and philosophers of the world. These are the results:
• Socrates taught for forty years, Plato for fifty, Aristotle for forty, and Jesus for only three. Yet the influence of Christ’s three-year ministry infinitely transcends the impact left by the combined 130 years of teaching from these men who were among the greatest philosophers of all antiquity.
• Jesus painted no pictures; yet some of Raphael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci’s finest paintings received their inspiration from Him.
• Jesus wrote no poetry; but Dante, Milton, and scores of the world’s greatest poets were inspired by Him.
• Jesus composed no music; still Haydn, Handel, Beethoven, Bach, and Mendelssohn reached their highest perfection of melody in the hymns, symphonies, and oratorios they composed in His praise.
• Every sphere of human greatness has been enriched by the humble Carpenter of Nazareth. His unique contribution to the race of humans is the salvation of the soul! Philosophy could not accomplish that. Nor art. Nor literature. Nor music. Only Jesus Christ can break the enslaving chains of sin and Satan. He alone can speak peace to the human heart, strengthen the weak, and give life to those who are spiritually dead.
C. S. Lewis is considered one of the most influential authors of the twentieth century. The way he went from atheism to a relationship with Christ is what Paul is reminding us of in Ephesians 3. Lewis was able to put aside the contemporary and the religious Jesus and come to terms with the real Jesus. That’s why his words from Mere Christianity are so important to us and help us remember the real Jesus:
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
Let’s heed Paul’s plea to remember who Jesus is—and share those “inexhaustible riches and generosity of Christ” with others.