Wednesday, November 12, 2008

WEDNESDAY WEEKLY WORD...the mystery

In last week's YOUR OPINION MATTERS POLL, I asked the readers the following question, "What real-life mystery could you solve?" The top 3 answers were:

1. 43% of those voting said they could solve the mystery of what women want.
2. 31% voted and said they could solve the mystery of why men are so clueless.
3. 18% of those polled, said they could solve the mystery of the missing sock in the laundry.

I doubt that anybody will EVER be able to solve the mystery of men and women, however, everybody loves a mystery! Look at the popularity of mystery books and movies with cliff hangers.

DO YOU EVER LOOK AT LIFE BEING A MYSTERY?

Just like many people today, those in ancient times also seemed to love a mystery. In fact, many citizens of Rome and Greece practiced secretive religions know as "mystery religions". The teaching behind this practice was that the great truths of life, including the nature of God and how to approach God, were mysteries revealed only to a few. This religious philosophy had apparently gained a strong foothold in Colossae, even in the church. To fight this perspective, Paul used some of the language of the mystery religions while putting a much different christian slant on it. Paul presented the "Christian mystery" which is that the God of the universe could be within all of us, through Jesus Christ.

At some point in life, a follower of any religion or philosophy comes to the question, "Where do I fit in?" Even when we feel like we have a sense of "the big picture" - it means very little if we do not feel like we have a role in it.

WHAT WAS PAUL'S ROLE?
Paul saw himself as being called to fill three roles:
  1. a suffering servant
  2. a proclaimer of the gospel
  3. an encourager of believers
ROMANS 8:16,17 "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, (17) and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him."

The role of a suffering servant is important because we are testifying to the suffering love of Christ. Non-believers would not know of that kind of suffering love if they do not see it in us. Paul's suffering made it known to others the suffering of Jesus Christ.

COLOSSIANS 1:28 " and we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ."

Paul accepted the role of proclaiming the gospel. This was an important role to all who would call themselves disciples of Christ. Before His ascension, Christ told His followers, "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19,20) Paul filled this commission perhaps better than anyone else, starting churches throughout Europe and Asia Minor.

Encouraging the believers was one of Paul's mission: "I want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in love." (Colossians 2:2) Not only does all of Paul's letters start out with an encouragement, but Paul often went back to churches that he had started for the sole purpose of encouraging them in their faith. (found in Acts 14:21,22; 15:41; 18:23)

We all need encouragement for challenges that we face, but looking at the account of the disciples, we know that they were going thru some really tough times.

  • They were under heavy pressure from friends and family.
  • They were rejected.
  • They experienced physical persecution.

Paul knew that believers would need encouragement to know that the reward they would receive in the kingdom of God would make it worth it all.

WHAT IS OUR ROLE? We are no different than Paul, we have all been called to fulfill the same role as he was....

WE ARE CALLED TO SUFFER FOR CHRIST. Most of us won't be martyred like Paul was, but we will face persecution for standing up for our faith. We might lose our job, lose our friends, be laughed at, ridiculed. This is all part of testifying of the suffering love of Jesus Christ.

WE ARE CALLED TO PROCLAIM CHRIST. Not all of us are called to be preachers. But we all have a responsibility to tell others about Christ. Especially those closest to us. Our family members, our co-workers, our neighbors. We must proclaim Christ to those around us.

WE ARE CALLED TO ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER. All of us hit "rock bottom" sometimes, it is those times that we need someone to come alongside of us and tell us we can make it! This is why Alcoholics Anonymous is so effective, because they strengthen one another and hold each other up. The church should be renamed as "Sinners Anonymous", because we are all sinners saved by grace, strengthened by Gods love and strengthened by each other.

"God wanted to make known to those among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." -Paul, the Apostle

Luke Skywalker, of the famous movie STAR WARS, repeatedly advised others to "rely on the force." The force that we are to rely upon is the presence of Jesus Christ within us, it is what will give us strength in our faith. Such a strengthening power is not always rational or logical - sometimes it is a mystery. But that does not make it any less real. We have access to this power thru the presence of Christ that lives within us.

MATTHEW 28:20 " I am with you always, to the end of the age."

I am studying the book of Colossians, this weekly devotion reflects some thoughts that Paul has been teaching me. I pray that you will study along with me and together we will accept this mystery as the real deal. As we pursue the role like Paul did, may the mystery of Jesus Christ be revealed to others.


PLEASE TAKE TIME TO VOTE IN THIS WEEK'S POLL: it's located on the side bar of this blog. Your opinion really does matter!!!

2 comments:

Laurie Ann said...

Excellent post, Laurie! Good teaching, encouragement, wisdom and inspiration found here!

Daniel's Mom said...

You have a blog award at my blog waiting for you!