I can go off on tangents. In our family, we might be discussing one thing at the dinner table and after a while the question will be asked, “And exactly how did we get here?” And so we will retrace our steps and try to figure out how the the original conversation morphed into the conversation we are now having.
There are also times when I am excited to talk about a certain topic, either because I find it personally interesting or because I have some knowledge of the topic or because in the process of making a point, more points enter my mind which I “have” to get out.
I think you probably can relate to this. Our thoughts, our conversations are rarely perfectly orderly, like an outline or a presentation for work. They are a bit more fluid.
So it shouldn’t surprise us that there are times in Paul’s writing that he enters into a digression, a “not so tangent-y” tangent, where he pauses from where he was going and spends time writing about a different, yet related, topic for a while, often in a long run-on sentence. Such is the case as we begin considering Ephesians together again, particularly at the beginning of Ephesians 3. Paul had been talking about how in Christ we are reconciled not only to God but to one another, that in Christ two men (Jew and Gentile) have been made into one. In what looks like a conclusion, he begins to speak of how “for this reason …” and then he doesn’t finish the sentence … he enters into his digression. And what a digression. What a celebration of what the Lord has done in Paul’s own life, how the mystery of the Gospel had been revealed to him, how he had been made a minister of the Gospel and how he had been given the gift of being able to “preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” And what a celebration of Christ! Paul speaks of the promise of the Holy Spirit which we partake of as those who belong to Jesus, he speaks of the eternal purposes of God being realized in Jesus Christ, and he speaks of the access we have to the Father in Christ, how because of Jesus we can approach the Father with confidence and boldness. This digression continues for some time before the original conversation, “For this reason …,” is rejoined. But clearly Paul found the grace of Christ so marvelous, that he just lost himself in it a bit.
The preacher Martin Lloyd Jones commented that “beyond all doubt there is nothing which is quite so comforting, so reassuring to faith, nothing which is quite so exhilarating in the Christian life, as just to stand back and contemplate, and to understand in some measure God’s great plan and scheme and purpose of redemption.” There are many things each day that require our attention. They require planning and order. Paul had planned to say / write some things to the Ephesians. And then as he read his writing, as he considered his own salvation and ministry, as he considered what Christ had accomplished among Jew and Gentile, he found it all “so exhilarating” that he had to just say more about it. Is that your experience? In the midst of your day, do you at times just start contemplating the greatness of God’s “plan and scheme and purpose of redemption?” Or if someone asks you about your faith in Christ, do you sometimes just find that you have been talking for a while … because you find it all so exhilarating? What has been accomplished for us in Christ truly is marvelous. May you find time to marvel and to speak and to pray that the world would know the unsearchable, exhilarating, riches of Christ.