The Purpose of Mystery
“With wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment – to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” Ephesians 1:8b-10 NIV
When I was a kid I loved magicians. I would watch with great attention trying to figure out how they performed each trick or illusion. My first memory of seeing a live magician was at my dad’s store in Kalamazoo, Michigan. They had an event in the children’s department for families where a hired magician performed. I watched from the front row as he made things appear and disappear before my very eyes. It was incredible. The thing that intrigued me was the mystery of it all. How did the magician make things change colors, appear out of nowhere, and disappear into thin air? As a kid watching the performance I was amazed, in part, because I couldn’t figure it all out. Mystery is like that. We are drawn in when we cannot figure everything out. A mystery is something that is difficult to understand or nearly impossible to explain. To the laymen—especially kids—magic is a mystery.
The Christmas following the magic performance I attended I received a magic set as a present. In the magic set were several of the tricks I had seen performed. As I read the instructions and learned the tricks something happened. The mystery began to fade. I understood at a deeper level how these tricks were performed. I knew the technique that the magician had used. It was no longer a mystery. Instead, it was rather easily explained and I was able to perform the trick myself. I still didn’t know how all of the tricks were performed, but I had a new understanding of what went into the overall performance of magic. I still loved magic and the skill and artistry of a good illusionist. However, the overall mystery of the performance is gone. I know they are tricks using slight of hand, misdirection, and props. To a certain degree, even though the mystery is gone I may even have a greater appreciation for magicians. I appreciate the skill, the dedication, the hours of practice, and the honing of their craft. I still love magicians.
I wonder if there is just a little of this idea in what Paul is writing to the believers in Ephesus. They had seen the mystery of God through the birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection. Paul is writing to people who have experienced the mystery of God sending His only Son to be the Savior of the world. They believed that Jesus was the Messiah. These same people of the mystery of Jesus are now trying to live out the mystery in their own life. The Apostle Paul writes to encourage them to live out the mystery. To embrace the mystery of Jesus. There is one main reason Paul encourages them to do this—it is God’s will. Before Jesus the mystery of God’s will was not yet revealed. Yes, there were the ten commandments, there were the prophets, the sacrificial system, and many ways the people of God interacted with God. But following God was still a mystery. Imagine for a moment you followed a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. That is mysterious. Paul encourages the new followers of Jesus to remember that the mystery of God’s will has been revealed and purposed in Jesus.
Jesus is the embodiment of the mystery of God’s will. In Jesus, God’s will was made known or revealed to all of humanity. The mystery is made known that God wanted for all of creation to be brought into unity under Jesus’ authority. What once was a mystery to humanity is now known. God wants for everyone and everything to be unified under Jesus Christ the Lord. This is where the truly amazing and mysterious part comes in—God chose us to help God’s will be accomplished. We are a part of helping this mystery be made known to the whole world. Paul writes, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” [Ephesians 1:4] We are God’s plan for unveiling the mystery of God’s will in Jesus Christ. That is amazing!
How do you live out this mystery in your life? Are you still trying to figure out the mysterious will of God for your life? Are you working to be a part of revealing this mystery to others? Today, may we all commit to the purpose of revealing the mystery of Jesus to others. Commit to helping at least one person know that Jesus loves them, God is not mad at them, and that God wants us all to be in unity under Jesus as Lord of all. You may use words, you may show love through acts of compassion, or you may simply tell your story. Whatever we do, let all of us help to make God’s will known to the world around us. I pray that today we help one other person experience God’s grace through a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.
This Sunday we will begin a new message series on Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. We are calling the message series “Mystery” as Paul uses this word many times throughout his letter. We will discuss how we are called to be a part of revealing this mystery to the world in which we live. I hope you will join me this Sunday at 8:15|NINE45|11:15 for worship. You can also go to SAUMC.NET and join us via livestream. The best is yet to come. I love you all and can’t wait to see you in church!