The Knowable Mystery

When we think of great people in the Bible, we are all going to have our favorites.  Characters that appeal to us, that speak to us, that mean something to us.  Moses, Noah, David, Ruth, Ester, Mary, so many names of people that may speak to us.

But one of the names that is one many of our lists is Paul.  Paul has a dramatic conversion story, travels the world preaching, and wrote many books that make up the New Testament.

Paul is one of the most important figures in the Bible and in world history.  He was the first to take the Gospel into Europe.  He started churches across the world.  He brought the Good News to Gentiles.  Through His love of devotion to Jesus, he literally changed the world.  Look at what he says, though, in 1 Corinthians 2: 1-5, is important to him:

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. 4 My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.

21818_433630803383117_578966460_n.jpgYesterday Erin Hicks, our Associate Pastor here at St. Matthew’s shared a quote from John Wesley that this passage reminded me of.  Wesley said this -. “If we could once bring all our preachers, itinerant and local, uniformly to and steadily to insist on those two points, ‘Christ dying for us’ and ‘Christ reigning in us,’ we should shake the trembling gates of hell.”  That is the truth of the Gospel.  Jesus dying for us (and being raised for us) and reigning in us every day, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  That is what truly counts, that is what is all about.

And that is what Paul preached over and over again.  As he says in this text – I decided to know (or preach) nothing Jesus crucified.

Paul says, I didn’t worry about the mysteries or these lofty words.  Jesus.  Crucified.  Resurrected.  Returning.  As we as part of our communion liturgy -as we proclaim the mystery of faith: Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.

And this mystery, it is a knowable mystery.  We don’t “understand” it, who can really understand the power of resurrection and the cross.  But we can know it.  Because it is true.  And this truth sets us free.

In other words, all of this is to say what matters most.  Not mysteries that none but God truly know.  Not opinions, no matter how well thought out.  Not preferences or likes or dislikes.  Not the worry and fears of this world.  Paul didn’t focus on any this.

He focused on Jesus.  He loves us.  He died for us.  He will return for us.  That’s the truth of the Gospel.

The folks all around us, their need is not really the answers to all the mysteries of the world.  Their need is Jesus.  Christ, and Christ alone.  That’s our hope, and the hope for the world.

Today, may we know Jesus, and Him crucified. And may we know that nothing compares to that.

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There are some things in life we don’t understand.  There are some (many) mysteries about God that I can’t fathom.

There are questions about suffering that while I may have an explanation for, I can’t understand.

There are moments of pain that I don’t fully understand the reason for.

There are parts of God’s character that I don’t know, and won’t know, until I stand before Him one day.

There are many, many mysteries that I don’t know the answer to. And I’m thankful that I’m not the only person that feels that way. And I am also thankful that I’m not the only person that has walked with God to feel that way. Listen to the words of Psalm 131:

O LORD, I am not proud;
I have no haughty looks.
I do not occupy myself with great matters,
or with things that are too hard for me.
But I still my soul and make it quiet,
like a child upon its mother’s breast;
my soul is quieted within me.
O Israel, wait upon the LORD,
from this time forth for evermore.

You and I, we don’t know everything. There is a mystery to God and to life. There are things too great and too deep and too wide for us to know.

The Psalm says that’s ok. Quiet yourself.  Wait upon God.  Know that He loves you. Know what you “know.”

What do we know? God is good. God loves us. God cares for us. God has saved us. God will take care of us.  We can trust Him.

I fully believe God is not as worried about the stuff we don’t know, as He is with the stuff we do know. Don’t worry about what you don’t know.  Worry about what you do know. And what you do about it.

This is not an excuse not to think and grow and learn. But, what it is the reality that we don’t know everything.

But we do know this. God loves us more than we’ll ever know.  And He wants us to love each other in the same way.

Today, know what you know, and what you don’t know. Don’t worry about what you don’t. That’s ok. None of us know it all.  Today, live in the knowledge of His love. And live out His love for all to see.

Yes, there’s a mystery to God. That’s ok. May we have the faith to believe. And may we live in the reality of the knowledge of His love.