The Mystery of Christ

maxresdefaultI don’t like mystery novels. I’m not sure why. I get bored easily. I want them to be more spicy, more interesting. On vacations, I’ll pick up a cheap Dean Koonz thriller or even a Stephen King if I’m in the mood. They’re not entirely different than mysteries, are they? And if you think about it, all stories have a mystery element. We wouldn’t keep watching if nothing ever were resolved. We want Star Wars to end. We need to see what happens to Harry Potter.

Harry Potter is a good example of the phenomenon. When those books were being released, everyone was super into it. We went to release parties. Wal-Mart was slammed for hours at midnight so people could pick up their copies. When the movies came out, everyone wanted to see how they’d look compared to the book. Even though you knew what would happen in the movie, you still had to watch to see the actors play it out, to see the special effects that you’d had in your imagination come to life on the big screen, to debate what was good and bad.

Kids are still reading Harry Potter. The books have been written. We know what happens and we can give spoilers without even thinking about it. The story has been written. And yet there is still joy in the journey of the story. There is still magic in going through it for the first time, or watching someone else do that. Now you have a different perspective. Now it may even be richer and fuller this time through.

The mystery of God has been revealed. It’s not a secret any longer. It’s not something we have to discover. It’s out.

So what is it?

Paul writes, Making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Ephesians 1:9–10)

Spoiler alert! The mystery is to unite all things in him, in heaven and on earth.

There you have it.

It means we’re going to be united to God himself. That happens through the life, ministry, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That’s the only way we can be made right with God, united to him. It’s also important to note that everyone will be united to him. Some will be glad about that and some will be sad about it. In Philippians 2, Paul writes that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. No one will be exempt or immune or let off the hook. I’m not sure what that will look like, but I hope you and I will be united to him in faith and belief, not in rebellion and judgment.

As pastor Kent Hughes writes, “We do not share the pessimism and despair of the world.”[1] We have hope. We know the mystery is revealed and all will be one in Christ.

We’re going to be united to all things—everything is going to be redeemed in fullness, in shalom, in peace. Everything will be set right. All will be well. Our earth. Our oceans. Our animals. Our plants and minerals. Our knowledge. Our emotions. Our cities. Our suburbs. Our homesteads. The whole cosmos will be fulfilled. In Romans 8:19–21, Paul writes, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God…for creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption. Creation itself will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God! Again, I’m not sure what set free rivers or grasslands or tide pools or peninsulas or whales or seahorses or penguins or oak trees or tangerines looks like. But I can’t wait to find out. It sounds great!

Let me point out that one of the things that’s created and will be redeemed and fulfilled is you. You’re a part of the physical stuff of this earth. I don’t know what a fully glorious you will be. I know there won’t be any more cancer or nearsightedness or entopic pregnancies or broken arms. I don’t know if we might have grey hair or be bald. I don’t know if we’ll be able to bench press unlimited weights or run marathons with ease or pirouette around a hundred times. Maybe we’ll still have all of our limitations so we can still enjoy playing games. Maybe we’ll have our pets with us. Maybe we’ll get to pick how old we are, so we can look back and choose our favorite age. There will be things we know and an unlimited number of things to discover. We’ll be able to create and explore and appreciate our differences without sin, without war, without sickness and death. You’ll be you and I’ll be you, but I can’t tell you what that will look like.

Lastly, that leads into that we know we’re going to be united to each other. Revelation 7:9–10 says, “After this I looked and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”

This is one of Paul’s big points, and he’ll talk about it later in Ephesians, like he does so many other places in his letters. This work has already started. We don’t see it very closely yet, and we have sinned so much in this area. But Paul keeps on talking about how Jew and Gentile are reconciled in Christ. When we unite all things together in Christ, we are united in him together. We’re not all just me and Jesus. It’s us. You and me. We’re together. We’re the body of Christ. We’re the bride of Christ. It’s not just the men or the women or the boys and the girls. It’s not just the rich or the poor or the middle class. It’s not just the workers and the bosses. It’s not ranked on IQ or credit scores or zip codes. It’s not Africans or Asians or Europeans or like most of us all mixed up. It’s not Presbyterians or Baptists or Charismatics or Nazarenes. It’s not grouped by age or marital status or how many kids you have and if you home school or private school or public school or never went to school.

This is how we divide up, isn’t it?

Paul says the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, is to unite all things in him, things in heaven and on earth.

So let’s get busy!

On the one hand, we have a lot of work to do, so let’s work on this work. Let’s embrace this full gospel mission. Let’s get right with God, which is only possible in Jesus. Let’s unite ourselves to him once and for all, each and every day, as many ways as possible because it’s glorious to do so, to walk as the adopted, forgiven redeemed.

Let’s passionately work and care for our created world in all its glory, longing for the day when every piece of this universe will be united to Christ and freed from the brokenness of sin. Let’s be passionate about animal rights, about preserving and blessing our earth and protecting and honoring each and every person created in the image of God.

And let’s come together as we can as brothers and sisters in Christ, united together. We’re family together in this. We’re walking together hand in hand, arm in arm. We grieve when others grieve. Their hopes are ours. Ours are theirs. When we stumble, we pick each other up. We celebrate our victories together. We’re going to be united, so let’s be united in Jesus now.

There are mysteries in this world. We don’t know what the deal is with Stonehenge. There are unsolved murders. We don’t know what happened to the nearly 300 Nigerian school girls who were kidnapped. They haven’t been found. 1,400 gold coins were discovered in someone’s backyard in 2014 in California. They’re worth an estimated $10 million. No one knows where they came from or how they got there.

But we do know some things. Some mysteries have been revealed. We may not know how Game of Thrones ends (yet), but Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Office, Seinfeld, Friends and MASH all have wrapped up. You can watch them for yourself.

We know the mystery of his will. All will be united in him. May that day come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Doug in library

 

 

[1] Hughes, 35