Tuesday, May 21, 2013
There Is No Mystery
If you were living in Ephesus in the first century A.D., the word "mystery" or the plural "mysteries" would have had a different and distinctive connotation. You would have thought of the mystery religions, sometimes called simply the "mysteries." These were religious organizations that were based around certain secret beliefs and practices. Only someone initiated into the mysteries would be privy to some hidden source of salvation. In many cases, one could only be initiated into a mystery religion by paying a significant amount of money. Thus, most people were simply left out, forever unaware of the life-changing truth and experience of the mysteries.
Why did the Christians steward their "mystery" so differently than the pagans? Because they were following the example (and command) of God. God "made known the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure" (1:9). God delighted in revealing himself and his purposes for the world. Thus, whereas for pagans, the essence of their mysteries was hiddenness, for Christians, the mysteries were to be shared with all, to the ends of the earth.I am consistently struck by just how much Jesus turned the typical model for religion on its head. Jesus did not demand sacrifice - He was the sacrifice! Thus to demand money to access the "mystery" would be completely antithetical to the very heart of the gospel.
You know it's funny, we are so willing to talk about grace when it comes to sin, but we are equally willing to be very demanding when fundraising. All sorts of talk about expectations and rewards.
God intends us to give out of gratitude and not as a part of any formula wherein our sacrifice is "returned sevenfold" or any other such nonsense. Somehow I cannot help but think that if we concentrated on producing mature Christians the money thing would take care of itself. Isn't that really the message Christ gives to us individually?
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