TODAY’S READING: Ephesians
Ephesians has many of the same concepts as Colossians. It’s likely Paul wrote the letters at the same time and thought the Ephesian church needed to hear some of the same truth as the Colossians. Paul briefly visited Ephesus on his first missionary journey and spent two years there on his third. He wrote to them as a missionary, opening the letter by saying: “Paul, an apostle [a missionary] of Jesus Christ by the will of God…”
Missionary Intercession. Remembering Paul was a missionary writing to the church he planted in present day western Turkey, we see in Ephesians what prayers for our brothers and sisters globally should contain: that the Father of glory may give them the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him; that the eyes of their understanding may be enlightened to the hope of His calling, the glory of His inheritance, and the exceeding greatness of His power; that according to the riches of His glory they would be strengthened by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in their hearts through faith; that they would be able to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge and be filled with all the fullness of God; and that their church would give Jesus glory to all generations forever (Eph. 1:17–19; 3:16–17, 19, 21). If your missionary assignment is to pray for the gospel advance among all peoples, you can do no better than to pray the missionary prayers Paul prayed for the Ephesians.
Missionary Identity. Paul reminded the Ephesians that though they were once strangers and aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, they have now been brought near by the blood of Christ (2:12–13). The well-known references to Jesus Himself being our peace and breaking down the dividing wall of separation are missionary in context, promising Gentiles they have equal access with Jews to one Father, that they are fellow citizens of the household of God and fellow heirs through the gospel (2:18–19; 3:6). The wonderful reference to Jesus being the cornerstone is a missionary reference; Paul was saying the house of God is being built with living stones from every tribe, tongue, culture, and people, and it is Jesus which brings us all together. Jesus is our missionary peace and our missionary cornerstone. May we never hear or read about peace or cornerstone without thinking about how we can preach the unsearchable riches of Jesus among unreached peoples in unity with the global body of Christ.
Missionary Imitation. Paul told us to walk in love as Christ has loved us, imitating God. Missionary work is not for the immature in Christ. We don’t send missionaries to the field so they grow up, or because they don’t fit in at home, or because they have addiction issues that we think Africa or Arabia will wring out of them. If those that walk in sin have no place in the kingdom of Christ, they certainly have no place on the missionary field. We cannot walk as or with fools. Missionaries must have enough strength of character to submit to one another in the fear of the Lord. They must know how to fight against sin and Satan, not against authority or associates, and they must have the dignity of ambassadors in chains. This does not describe the immature in faith. God sent His brilliant Son. The Son sent brilliant Paul. Let’s imitate them and send as missionaries the ones we would most dearly want to keep at home. We don’t really love the nations if we don’t send them our brilliant best.