Mystery

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Colossians 1:27

We all love a good mystery, sometimes a “Who Done It”, which is actually the name of a 1942 Abbot and Costello film which ended up inspiring others in the genre.

Mystery plots often involve a murder or other crime that has occurred and the subsequent search to find the perpetrator.

The plots often have twists and turns – about the time you think you have it solved, something gets thrown in to change the focus to someone else than the one that you are sure was the culprit.

Alfred Hitchcock was a master of the mystery thriller with his films Psycho and The Birds.  Each time I watched them, and I was uncomfortable wondering what would happen next. It didn’t matter if I knew what was coming, either. The suspense was all too real.

There are even Mystery Dinner Parties where guests play parts and one of the partygoers is secretly playing a murderer. The guests must determine who among them is the criminal.

What makes the mystery so fascinating?  I suppose suspense and intrigue. We are all challenged by a movie which drops clues left and right – some of them intentionally to keep you guessing.  In fact, a definition of mystery is “a novel, play, or movie dealing with a puzzling crime, especially a murder.”

I have to admit a certain interest in an old TV series called Castle, which is now in reruns after 8 years.  I have watched the entire series, and my grandkids even kid me about it.

The series involves the life of a female New York detective and her sidekick, a mystery writer, who jointly would solve the crimes.  The drama was rounded out with comedy.

The second definition of mystery is the one I want to focus on: “something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain.”

The word “mystery” occurs 28 times in the bible.  In scripture, it’s often used to describe a truth that can only be revealed by divine revelation.  The above passage is a good example of this use, and it is one that I have pondered for much of my faith life.

I initially was confused about what the “mystery” was all about – why was Christ a mystery? Thinking back to my pre-Christian plight, I thought that a lot of the mumbo jumbo around Christianity was a mystery, and an academic one at that.

I had my own challenges with the mystery of faith. I can’t help but think about the next generation, who, like me, did not grow up in a Christian household. Let me be clear here: my family went to church, but it was more of a social construct.

After my conversion, over time I unraveled some of the mysteries of the faith.  I learned what concept of the Trinity was all about.  Before conversion, it was a puzzle. In some ways, it still is.

There is a part of me, and I am sure in others, which wants to understand all there is to the theology of being a Christian. I’ve come to the conclusion – after lots of years wondering and studying – that not everything in scripture will be revealed to us in the here and now.

The next generation is much like me – they have had little or no contact with the bible compared to prior generations. That is most true for Gen Z. When we communicate with them, it is important to remember that trying to expose them to theology in a totally rational and methodical way to faith may be a waste of time.

I am drawing on my own faith experience here. It didn’t matter much if I  sat in church before being a believer listening to a pastor trying to unwind the mysteries of our faith. What did matter was his life and the lives of those around me.  The only spiritual truth that mattered in the end was the Jesus I saw in others.

It was not their theology that won the day. It was their lives that mirrored the life of Jesus. As Paul says, the mystery is Christ in us.

I no longer get caught up in solving every theological “mystery”. They are nice to understand, but not essential in the day-to-day living out of my faith. Whether the rapture is pre or post tribulation is not something I dwell on in my daily life.

The challenge here is to simplify your theology to the “Why” you believed to begin with. Explaining the trinity might be beneficial to someone in seminary. But to an uninformed next generation, it is unlikely to advance the ball in becoming a Christian.

MENTOR TAKEAWAY:  It’s who you are, not what you say, that will lead your mentee to Christ.

WORSHIP:  Listen to one of my favorites:  I’m Going Free by Vertical Church Band.

MentorLink:For more information about MentorLink, go to www.mentorlink.org.

SUBSCRIBE:  You can receive an email notice of each post by clicking on the icon at the top right corner and entering your email address. Photo:  Provided by Dan Rush; used by permission.

 

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