Summary: Our point of view determines our perception for better or worse.


Text: Ephesians 3:1 - 13

Our point of view determines our perception for better or worse. There is a house in New England where the owner designed a unique feature. The owner of the house often took visitors to the tower and would ask them to look through one of the windows. Each of the four windows was different. The red-tinted window could make it look like a hot summer day. There was a blue-tinted window that could make it the outside appear like that of a cold winter’s day. A third window had a brownish-tint and gave the beholder an outdoor view that would appear like fall. A fourth window had a greenish tint that hinted of spring. Bishop Ernest A. Fitzgerald who tells this story said of the tower in that house “What the visitor saw in the world depended on the window through which the world was viewed.” (Bishop Ernest A. Fitzgerald. Keeping Pace: Inspirations In The Air. Greensboro: Pace Communications, Inc., 1988, p. 200). This story helps us to see how our point of view depends on which kind of window we will use. As we focus on Ephesians 3:1- 13, we can clearly see differing points of view.


How do we describe the word mystery today?

1) Perception and culture: How has our modern-day culture has shaped our perception? OBSERVATION: Someone (James McTyre) points out how our culture seems to have shaped the way we perceive mysteries. He points out that we associate the word “mystery ” usually in the context of a TV show or a novel. He calls these “artificial boundaries” where the case is “… certain to be solved within an hour or by the last page where criminals are apprehended ”. (David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor. eds. Feasting On The Word. James W. McTyre, “Pastoral Perspective”. Louisville: Westminster: John Knox Press, 2008, p. 206). He goes on to say that the mystery Paul is speaking of “… not the apprehension of criminals, but the comprehension of Christ”.

2) The entertainment industry: How does it shape our perception? Movies have actually been made where you could choose alternative endings. Real life does not work that way.

Is it a mystery that we cannot fix our spiritual compass without the Gospel? Without the gospel we are clueless and destined to make bad decisions and mistakes. In his book God’s Story, Your Story, Max Lucado points out Satan’s “No fault, denial motif”: “If I were the devil, I’d blame evil on a broken political system. A crippled economy. The roll of the dice. The Wicked Witch of the West. I’d want you to feel attacked by an indefinable, nebulous force. After all if you can’t diagnose the source of your ills, how can you treat them? If I were the devil, I’d keep my name out of it”. (Max Lucado. God’s Story, Your Story. Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2011, p. 45). Satan wants to leave his name out of it, because he wants us to be confused, hopeless and defeated and self-centered. Why? The reason seems to be because when we get self-centered we focus on our own self-preservation and ignore the needs of others.

Paul clarified the mystery. Someone (James Montgomery Boice) explains Greek roots of the original meaning of the word “mystery” :

1) The original meaning of “mystery”: In Greek the word “mysterion” [mysterion] from which we get our English word “mystery” had a different meaning than the way we define it. The original Greek context of that word meant “something that was known only to the initiated”. (James Montgomery Boice. An Expositional Commentary: Ephesains. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2007, p. 95).

2) Mystery and the initiated: Paul clarified this mystery that had been revealed to him--- how the Gentiles would become equal with the Jews.

3) Mystery and the controversy of God’s grace: Before the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Jews believed that a Gentile could become an equal by a new convert complying with circumcision and all the other beliefs and practices of the law. Paul’s perception of the mystery was upsetting to all who disagreed with Paul’s God-given---initiated “point of view”.


Have you ever heard of a messenger getting attacked for delivering a message?

1) Unhappy with the messenger: Have you ever seen a dog chase a postal worker? Depending on the size and temperament of the dog, we might find that amusing. We would laugh about a Chihuahua but we would be intimidated by a German Shepherd.

2) Unhappy with inclusiveness: Speaking of dogs, the Jews thought of Paul’s day thought of the Gentiles as dogs which obviously was degrading.

Paul served time for his beliefs.

1) Paul’s witness: Paul took a stand for what was right and it cost him his freedom.

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