Friday, September 26, 2014

The mystery of grace

“To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  Colossians 1:27 (NRSV)
In the Apostle Paul’s time, the difference between Jew and Gentile was a factor in spreading the gospel of Christ to the world because the early Christians were also Jews.  In the verse above, Paul starts out by saying "to them" which means the saints.  The saints are the early believers who follow hard after Christ--in other words, the church. Since most of the early believers are Jews, it is difficult for them to get past the differences between Jews and Gentiles that have been so deeply ingrained into them.  God chose for everyone to know the riches of His mystery, and a constant theme of Paul's writing is that Christianity is for Jews and for Gentiles—in Paul’s world, that meant EVERYONE.                                                      
The word mystery is interesting as well.  In Paul's day, there were believers in Christ who thought that in order to fully know Christ, they needed to have a special richly spiritual, mysterious knowledge that not everyone was able to possess or understand.  Paul wanted to make it clear to the Colossian church that the mystery does not have anything to do with a special knowledge, but it has everything to do with God's grace.  The mystery is for EVERYONE--Jews, Gentiles, Americans, Cambodians, Native Americans, Asian, Black, White--all nations and all ethnic groups.  And Paul states this mystery so simply and yet so powerfully.  The glorious mystery is Christ in you!  Somehow, God, who is greater and more powerful than we can ever hope to imagine, chose to live in our hearts, in spite of our ignorance and inability to comprehend His greatness.  Think of it.  Christ in us!  What amazing grace our God has shown to us.