My little girl has some serious health problems that we manage with a variety of medicines she takes several times a day. Some of her meds are liquefied compounds mixed with syrup in a failed attempt to make them taste like a sweet treat. Her other prescriptions are tablets crushed into powder and mixed with applesauce. Truth be told, we’re tricking her into thinking she’s getting something tasty and fun, rather than something that’s healthy and helpful but harder to swallow.
Paul doesn’t sugarcoat the Word of God. He is writing to the church in Ephesus, a community of Christ followers, with whom he spent the most time. As Paul mentored them in the faith, he described the hyper-religious culture he came from and how he’d zealously lead abusive mobs as they jailed and killed Christians. Paul says that despite being an enemy of God, Jesus pursued and found him on the road to Damascus. This traumatizing and beautifully redemptive experience was the beginning of the plan Jesus had for Paul—to partner with Him in bringing the gospel to the world.
Paul, being bound with love to the Ephesian church, explains to them that following Jesus isn’t simply a matter of religion or morality or new doctrines. God has intervened in every aspect of human history—beginning with Abraham’s call, through all of time, and until the final restoration when Jesus will act as Judge and finally put everything right. God has a step-by-step plan that involves a partnership with redeemed humans.
The transparency with which Paul shares the whole counsel of God through a loving relationship is part of the plan. Your own story, dear reader, has a place in the narrative of God’s bigger plan of redemption.
For each one of us, there are parts of the Bible we love and parts we love a little less because they challenge behavior, stretch faith, and provoke life-altering decisions. While tough conversations about God can make us squirm, they’re necessary to execute the piece of God’s plan assigned to each one of us. This requires growth that is healthy but sometimes painful. Don’t give into the temptation to sugarcoat the truths that are hardest to digest.