paul writes something in chapter 2 that is key for all of us to remember - but, before i get there...
ephesians 3:1 paul says, "for this reason, i, paul, the prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ for the sake of you Gentiles"
ephesians 4:1 says, "as a prisoner for the Lord, then, i urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you received."
finally, ephesians 6:20 states, "i am in chains now, still preaching this message as God's ambassador"
what is paul saying? well, in case it escaped you - he's in prison! that would be a place of loneliness and abandon - ever been there? yea, me too!
i tried to take that moment to encourage everyone to realize that there are going to be times in ministry and life where we feel isolated, alone and maybe even abandoned. it was great to see the candor and honesty of everyone as they almost all raised their hands to say that they had recently been in that place.
what i didn't point out - because i didn't see it at that point - was also this fact: even though paul was alone (in prison) in all three of these passages paul is not focused on his aloneness or lonliness...look again: "for the sake of you Gentiles" - "live a life worthy of the calling you received" - "still preaching this message" - it's all about the others he's made a difference to.
here's the "landing strip" for this devotional thought - ephesians 2:10 says, "for we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
did you see it?
it's right there - two words in!
we...paul...his listeners...the men and women he helped disciple...anyone following Christ that would listen!
ok, maybe you saw it - but did you "catch" it - "it" is this:
although paul was a prisoner, although he was in a terrible place of loneliness and abandon - he still choose to see things through the scope of "we"
even in jail paul realized that he was doing the good works of Christ Jesus - you know, the works prepared in advance!
let me land this plane with these "nutshell" thoughts:
- we will be lonely at times (whether in ministry or not)
- we may even be or feel abandoned (there's a difference)
- most of us won't face the prison of loneliness that paul did
- but if we do...
- we are not alone - we have others and we work together because it's God's design
- finally, if you are in a place of loneliness and you have either isolated yourself or allowed yourself to be isolated - please find someone to help you - alone is not a good place