“In reading this, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the Gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharing together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 3:4-6 New International Version
I’m not sure where or when it began, my love affair with books! I know who planted the seed that grew into a wonderful tree in me, the tree being the love of books. My mom gifted me with the desire to enter into the stories, the joy of words forming in my mind, creating pictures, and painting scenes that became as real as the moment I was living!
My mom was a great reader; I remember her trips to the county library returning with a load of books she would devour in the next two weeks! Then it was off to the library all over again for the next installment. One day I asked for a book on speeches, though I don’t remember why. She brought home this rather huge blue book full of the best speeches of all time, at least up to that particular era. The one I have remembered over the years is the speech by Patrick Henry with his famous words, “Give me Liberty or give me death!” Maybe it was then the desire to move people with words was first planted in my 10 year old brain. The love of books stayed with me, is still with me.
I have never been one who enjoyed art, or crafts, or making things with my hands. I have no creative blood flowing through my veins, especially when it comes to the gifts of fine art! In the eighth grade I was blessed to have an art teacher who allowed me to read books and write book reports instead of doing art class. It was great! The school had just received a new series of books based on the biographies of those who participated in the history of this nation: Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Andrew Jackson, Kit Carson, The Mountain Men, etc.
As I grew older I discovered the mystery stories of the 1930s and ‘40s. Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, Arthur W. Upfield, Rex Stout, and others who wrote stories that challenged the mind! There was no need for any sensationalism, there was not a need to be explicit about the gore, or any of the other graphically uncensored information found in so many books today. The earlier authors relied on imagination, a turn of phrase, the developing of a clue, and creating characters who were believable.
However, no matter how talented an author is, no matter how intrigued one may become with the mystery being spun, it is still only a story. We are surrounded by mysteries in our everyday lives. For some we discover the answers, others seem to elude us for ages, and then there are those for which we never find an answer. But Paul introduces us to the most tantalizing Mystery ever encountered in the History of the human race.
The Mystery is Jesus Christ, the mystery that keeps us off balance as we seek to understand Him. What was He about? Why was He interested? Why come in such a barbaric time of earths’ history? Why not come now to bring the Gospel of Salvation? With all the technological advances in communication doesn’t it make more sense to be here in this age? Just the thought of indoor plumbing and fully functional bathrooms would convince me to be born in the modern age!
Putting aside modern convinces, the advances in communication are astounding! In my lifetime we’ve gone from rotary dial telephones to touch tone, from touch tone to cell, and now to smart phones capable of doing things that boggle the mind! At least it boggles my mind, my phone does more than I will ever be able to learn in my what’s left of my lifetime. Talking about mysteries, they are all around us. Daily something new, impossible, beyond our imaginations becomes available to ordinary people. What were once nearly unimaginable mysteries have become those things which are now the commonplace in our lives!
Still, in the midst of lives driven by advances in technology, we need to explore and to know the Mystery that is Jesus. These gifts of technology which keep us disconnected from the peace and quiet we need to be regenerated are rapidly destroying the relationships we need to survive this world! One of the truths surviving the rebellion encountered in the Garden of Eden is humanity was not created to do life alone. We need companionship, we need friends.
The importance of relationship was also mentored, modeled for us in another garden. This one a garden of olive trees, this garden where the fate of the world and humanity was once more hanging in the response of one person. The mystery of salvation, our very lives, our future, the future of all humanity depended on what was going to happen in this garden of olive trees. And Jesus, knowing He could not face it alone, took three friends with Him. The need to know we are not alone runs deep in the psyche of humanity!
The Mystery of Jesus. It just doesn’t make sense that He would accept an infinite unknown when He had the choice to go home. He didn’t have to stay; He didn’t have to drink the cup! But He did. He made possible an amazing life for all who were before and all who would come after and for all who were in the here and now of that moment with Jesus. This, I believe, is the mystery of love impossible for us to comprehend. For what Jesus carried to the Cross was and is something we will never be able to fathom. Jesus was crushed under every sin issue ever conceived, thought, carried out, or threatened to be done by an entire planet! I know what my own guilt and shame does to me when I forget God’s Grace, when I forget Jesus took it all.
The mystery of Christ Paul is bringing to the attention of the believers (remember Christianity came out of Judaism) is this: through the Gospel all are equal to receive what Jesus offers. No one has a greater claim on the gospel truth than anyone else. If one chooses to believe in and on Jesus Christ they will receive eternal life through Jesus. This mystery is for all to accept with complete confidence.
Jesus accomplished the right to cocoon us in His Grace by living here, taking our consequences of eternal death, then accepting the Resurrection of the Innocent. His Grace is for all who will receive the gift. It’s only a mystery if we choose to walk away from the greatest revelation of unconditional love ever revealed in the history of God!
So, once more it comes down to this: What will you choose? Just as Jesus faced two Gardens, so do we. We must face the garden of our own rebellion so we can accept the Garden of our Salvation. And it is as simple as saying yes to the Holy Spirit as He comes to lead us into conviction, confession, and repentance, entering us into the Process of God’s Grace. The Process of Grace reveals God accepts us where we are and refuses to leave us as He found us.
Inherent in Grace is transformation, re-creation, the new heart, the new mind. The old is gone; the new has come to stay! And because of the Gospel of God’s Grace, because of Jesus’ willingness to say yes to the plan of salvation we have life eternal guaranteed by God!
“I will give them a new will—an undivided heart—and plant a new spirit within them; I will remove their cold, stony heart and replace it with a warm heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 11:19 The Voice
“And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” Ezekiel 36:26 New Living Translation