Why is it a mystery?

25 02 2016

RisenWhat is so “mysterious” about the fact that Christ lives in believing people? What is so hard to understand about this seemingly simple truth? Doesn’t every believing Christian understand this?

In his letter to the Colossians Paul describes his commission from God to help people see the wonderful but “mysterious” fact that Christ actually lives in people who have faith in Him. He was deeply committed to this task but admitted that it took much preaching, warning, and teaching “…with all the wisdom God has given us..” (Col. 1:25-29 NLT) Why? What was so hard to explain and understand?

First of all, this was a concept that had been “hidden” from people before the time of Christ. Now that the resurrected Christ had ascended into heaven and the Spirit had come to take His place it was finally “revealed” through Paul to those that God desired should know it.

But secondly, the full extent of this truth meant that a believer is not just indwelt by Christ but now lives AS Christ.(Col.3:3,4; Gal. 2:20) This concept is not only radical but to some even considered heretical. It was akin to the same blasphemous accusation that was laid against Christ. How can anyone claim to be God!?

The challenge to accept or let alone understand this truth has been further complicated by the fact that Christian thought has moved away from being an internal, mystical relationship with Christ to one of external, logical belief systems. Christianity has become highly academic, systematic, historical and empirical. There has been a constant effort to de-mystify its narratives and doctrines so as to be more understandable. It is easy to believe that God is my advocate and “with” me to help me with life but it is not so easy to believe that I can  live in “union” with Him. We can accept the fact that God has done amazing things for us, but we still struggle with the fact that we are really He in us. To move from the thinking that Christ has not just been “added” to my life or “covers me” with His righteousness to actually being my life is too great a leap. But, it is what scripture teaches us.

The “mystery” is in the fact  that we are to live more by the unseen, unfeeling and the spiritual than by our physical senses. We no longer just operate by the dimensions of space and time but the dimension of infinite reality. We can accept Calvary as a historical fact, but can we also accept the resurrection as fact? (aka Risen, the movie) Can we accept that we actually died and are now risen with Christ? (Rom. 6:11) These things are hard to prove. This is the mystery.

Thirdly, add to this that men are very practical beings and tend to compartmentalize their lives. The idea that Christ can be “added” to their lives is simple. They are told to just “receive” Him. But, then men try to figure out how to accommodate that part of their lives. They usually try to make Christ a priority or Lord, make promises to live “like” Christ and commit or dedicate themselves to the spiritual disciplines in an effort to be seen as mature, Biblical men. But the truth is Christ is not just added to a man’s  life, he is his life. He is not a compartmentalized person, part spiritual, part himself.  He, his old self, no longer exists!(Gal. 2:20) His inner being is now Jesus, the Spirit that has joined with his spirit. Man is not a separate being hoping to be changed by the forces of God. He has been changed internally. The old self has been replaced with Christ. His flesh, the outer expression of the spirit, may not always fully cooperate with his new self yet, but he is a new, changed man nonetheless.

The critical part of this reality is that unless a man understands this truth he will not live a victorious life. He will not be free, but instead will still try to live out of a false idea of who he thinks he is or should be. He will struggle with sin, temptation and the wounds of the past. He will want to change and be better so he will still focus on the physical, tangible flesh. It is not until  he begins to focus on the mysterious fact of his true, inner nature that he will be released to live in that unknown adventure called “the Life”. (John 14:6)

Like Paul, this is our mission as well. We want men to have this mystery unlocked in  themselves. As Paul describes, the goal is to assist every man to see his relationship perfectly with Christ, as Christ. We do this by the power of God’s spirit working through us. (Col. 1:28,29)

Join us and explore the mysterious, mystical adventure with the living Jesus. Happy Easter.

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Dennis


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