“Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.  To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that the words may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel”

~Ephesians 6:18-19 ESV

I love a good mystery!  A book or movie that keeps you guessing and is full of twists and turns until the answer is finally revealed in the end!  But what is this mystery of which Paul speaks?  Why is it so important that others know it?  Paul mentions the mystery several times in the New Testament and throughout the book of Ephesians.  In chapter three he describes it as the mystery “that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (verse 6).  It is the same mystery that the angels proclaimed on the night of Jesus’ birth:  “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people” (Luke 2:10, emphasis added). 

To answer the second question . . . If you are a true follower of Jesus Christ, then you know the freedom that comes from having a relationship with Him.  A popular song on the radio says, “I am redeemed/ You set me free/ So I’ll shake off these heavy chains . . .I am redeemed” (Big Daddy Weave “Redeemed”).  The freedom and redemption we have in Christ is not for us alone.  Jesus called us to proclaim the gospel, to make this great mystery known to all people!  Paul reminds us that we have been given the ministry of reconciliation (see 2 Corinthians 5:18).  God wants to use us as vessels to bring a broken people to him to be restored and made whole.

Despite seeing the need people have for the Lord and undefined gratitude I have for the grace bestowed on my own life, I have a hard time with this.  I don’t know what it is.  Stick me in front of a crowd and give me a topic and I could lecture for hours, but send me to the next door to my neighbor’s house or in the living room of a family member and I freeze.  I want so badly to see my loved ones in heaven.  I want them to know in their heart the mystery that has been made known in my life.  It is the mystery of God’s undying love for a fallen generation.  Romans 5:8 says, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

So what do I do?  First, I am asking that God would give me a deep, inescapable burden for them.  I want Him to help me see them as He does—as sheep without a Shepherd (see Mark 6:34).  I want to pray and not give up.  Second, I’m seeking to show love to them in practical ways—breakfast, a card, taking interest in their lives, etc.  Lastly, and this is where I struggle, I want to make the most of the opportunities that God gives me.  May I not shy away from proclaiming the truth.  Sometimes, I am the most fearful with my family members.  I’m not sure why that is.  Maybe it is because they know me, and they have seen me fall on my face so many times.  Maybe it is because I am afraid of their rejection or coming across as pious and unloving.  Or maybe it is because I am afraid their hearts are too hard and their rejection is imminent.  Whatever the reason, I know the Lord is able to do the impossible, if only we are willing.

I recently spent a wonderful weekend with my family, including a dearly loved grandmother who was celebrating a very special birthday.  My heart was burdened for her because I’m not sure where she stands with the Lord.  I kept praying that God would give me opportunities and boldness to proclaim the gospel.  The last day with her, I went for a walk early that fall morning.  Looking around at God’s majestic beauty, I was praying, Lord, don’t let her miss this.  Help her to see from where this beauty comes.  Help her to know you have loved her all along.  Lord, I want to see her in heaven one day.  As I left that day, I told her I loved her and was praying for her.  I still don’t have any definite answers, but I believe the mystery of the gospel is working on her heart.

Close your eyes and think of someone who doesn’t have a relationship with the Lord.  Who came to mind?  Who do you need a burden for?  Are you proclaiming the gospel with boldness?  It is not just a job for your pastor. God called us, as His disciples, to take the message to the whole world (see Acts 1:8).  Are you making the most of the opportunities that you have been given?  Would you pray for me?  Pray “that the words may be given me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel.”  Let’s go in the Lord’s strength and share the good news with those who have not yet experienced the glorious freedom in Christ!

“Look carefully then how you walk . . . making the best use of your time.” 

~Ephesians 5:15-16 NASB