All three of our sons started playing sports when they were about five and were introduced to baseball by playing on a T-ball team. T-ball is the purest and most joyful form of baseball. These little guys had no idea what they were doing — they just loved being part of a team (a little family of sorts) working toward the same goal. Of course, no score was kept, and the point was to learn the fundamentals of hitting a ball that was sitting on a little platform (not pitched), running bases, catching and throwing. They showed up, cheered each other on and loved sliding in the dirt to the base even when the ball was still trying to find its way to the little guy waiting at the plate. These eager players all started out with no knowledge or skill to play the game, just fearless, and full of joy. They were red and yellow, black and white, and precious in their parents’ and God’s sight. They gave it all they had.
In Ephesians, Paul is given the assignment of taking the mystery of the gospel to the wider world. God gave Paul the ministry of making known “the mystery” which had been “kept secret since the world began” (Romans 16:25). Paul is amazed at God’s grace in choosing him, of all people, for this work. When Paul calls himself “less than the least” he isn’t referring to his ability or desire for the work. He is referring to his worthiness to be chosen. He had been a chief activist in the persecution of the Christian Way. Christ stopped Paul dead in his tracks and appointed him to the opposite task, to be a chief activist in spreading Christ’s gospel message to all nations. Paul was amazed at this grace. He was an example of a man who didn’t take for granted the knowledge given him. He knew it wasn’t himself that accomplished it, but the
Holy Spirit working in him and giving him the revelation, the answer to the mystery, the answer the world needed. God’s redemption plan to save both Jews and Gentiles in Christ. God’s “wisdom” was glimpsed by the prophets of old. But now through Jesus Christ the veil of mystery is lifted, and the good message is revealed. The wisdom of God for salvation is fully known! That is why Jesus said in Mark 1:15, that we must repent and believe in the gospel. It was now in Paul’s power to help everyone share in the mystery of Christ, even from prison — and would he have had time to write all those letters if he hadn’t been in prison?
The point: God’s longing is for all of us, no matter where we come from, what our preferences are, or what we’ve done in the past — to know and understand that we’re on the same team. We all started out this new life in Christ like those little t-ball players — not well prepared or skilled at all, but willing to show up, learn, practice, and be all in for the sake of his glory. Have you encouraged someone this week, helped a ministry, or cheered someone on? All he asks is that we show up and he’ll take it from there.