7Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. 8Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, 9and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; 10so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him. 13I pray therefore that you may not lose heart over my sufferings for you; they are your glory.
What pastor, what servant of Christ, has not taken this first sentence to heart? Here, I do hear Paul speaking, for and with us – we have all become servants of this gospel through God’s grace. It is a gift. It is through his power and not our own. It is not bragging, for we are the least of all the saints. Paul considers himself least because he was a persecutor of the saints before he became a servant of the gospel – the arrogant young Pharisee became a humble apostle. And yet, even though he was least, the grace given him was to bring the gospel to the Gentile world – God calls us to his will, to serve in some particular way; for me, that was to come to this island community and serve him as best I could.
For Paul, it was to bring the news of the boundless riches of Christ to the Gentile world, and to make known to everyone the mystery which he had found – a mystery hidden in God through the ages, but now made known. God, who created all things, has also created the Church, and through it will make this mystery, in the wisdom of God, known to all the earth and even to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. The mystery is that Jesus Christ our Lord came to bring God’s salvation, God’s love, to all humankind, not only to the Jews. In him, we too have access to relationship with God! Through faith in Jesus, we can approach God boldly and in confidence. Paul (or the author writing for him) prays that they will not lose heart when they hear of his suffering, for his suffering is for their glory.