25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness– 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27 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)
In the first part of Colossians, Paul makes a comprehensive narration of the fullness of Christ. And as he does so, he uses the term ‘mystery’ several times to describe Christ, the above verses being one example.
What is a mystery? The term signifies that which is not easy to understand, that which is puzzling and at times inexplicable. With the advances made by science and the explosion of knowledge, many erroneously conclude that there can be no place for mysteries in the modern day world. Nothing can be farther than the truth. As he lives his life on earth, it doesn’t take long for man to recognize his finiteness in a world, which operates and extends far beyond what his mind can comprehend or his abilities can control. In fact the scientist himself is dependent on several mysteries to practice science. One is the repetitive nature of the events in the universe. The scientist uses the repetitive in his scientific method to observe and analyze events and arrive at scientific truth, yet has no way to explain why events repeat- he has to take it for granted. It is a mystery! Likewise for time – we live in time and the scientist works within the realm of the past, the present and the future to analyze events, but has no way to explain why time should be as it is! Mysteries are an integral part of our existence and experience.
In trying to understand Christ, a cardinal mistake is to do away with the mystery of Christ as is done by those who are not Christians but are happy to quote Christ’s sayings and his teachings at will. They see Christ as a human prophet- an exceptional one but no more. On the other hand a person who truly understands Christ and follows him will recognize the mysterious aspect of Christ, which revolves around the fact that he was God to the fullest though he lived life here on earth as a man. How is that somebody could be fully man and fully God at the same time? How is that Christ was conceived of a virgin? How is it that the cross provides justification for man? How is it the presence of Christ within ensures us eternal life? These are all mysteries because there is the predominant element of the spiritual in a true Christian faith and walk.
Now just because something is mysterious does not mean it cannot be experienced. Mona Lisa’s smile has an element of mystery to it, but it can be enjoyed and appreciated by one looking at the painting. In fact the mystery of Mona Lisa’s smile is what makes the painting even more precious and beautiful to behold. So it is with Christ. The mysterious need not put us off from experiencing the richness of Christ in an ever-increasing manner in our lives.
A mystery does not reduce, but elevates truth.
- TAKING HOLD
- THE UNSEEN REALITY