Monday, April 28, 2014

Great is the mystery - 1st Timothy 3:14-16

"I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth. By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory." (1 Timothy 3:14-16)
Often, when we read this scripture, we read it with a negative connotation as if Paul is rebuking us and trying to correct us for our behavior in church. However, the word used here "to conduct" can also be translated "to busy oneself" or to "live." Paul is instructing us, not necessarily rebuking us, in how we aught to live and busy ourselves in the house of God which is His church. These are issues we all face from time to time as we try to find our place and purpose in the body of Christ and, while Paul's discussion of these issues in his letter to Timothy do not represent and exhaustive treatment of these concerns, it does provide us with a good starting point.

What is of keen interest is that most of what Paul writes to Timothy about is in reference to our relationships with one another. His "how we aught to" is less about chores and more about choices; choices we make in our relationships with one another; choices to prefer, honor, and submit to one another as we share life together in the household of God. Praying together, having respect for order and decency, living in moderation and temperance, preferring others over ourselves, all belong to the "aught to" of our life within the church.

In many places, people are leaving churches in large numbers because they have become discontented with what passes for "the church" today. To a large degree I understand and agree with them. It is my belief that organized religion, at least as is practiced in many countries, has done much to obscure the truth of what Jesus came to establish upon the Earth. Many have become disenchanted with today's churches, and rightly so, as they fail to be the Body of Christ that Jesus intended the church to be.

 To Paul, and the other apostles, the Church was special. In their mind there was no separation between being a believer and being a member of the church universal. The church was the representation of God on the Earth; His very Body left behind to live and minister to a world in need. The church was also that "city set on a hill" (Matthew 5:14) whose light shown forth the truth of God to a people steeped in darkness. To be a believer was to be the church and to be the church was to be God's image on the Earth. It is my belief that if we could once again learn how we aught to live in the house of God then once again the church would be the representation of Christ that she was always meant to be.

All of this is a great mystery. To be the church and to live like Christ requires us to become godlike and to appropriate for ourselves godliness; godliness in our thoughts, intentions, and actions. But how does one become godlike? What is the secret to godliness? What is the answer to the greatest mystery of all? Jesus! To know Jesus is to know the mysteries of life; to know Jesus is to become part of His Kingdom; and to know Jesus is to become like Jesus. The answer to this mystery is Christ Himself. Maybe it's time we stop running and seek for the one who has all the answers, both for our live as well as the world around us!

David Robison

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