Summary: An exploration of God’s mystery -- Christ
A mystery revealed
Colossians 2: 1-3
Want to understand God’s mystery? 4 important principles:
1. God’s mystery cannot be understood except in the right environment
§ A place where leaders’ motivation is to struggle for those who fall under their ministry.
Struggling is a term from the athletic contests. Lit: agona. The root of our word agony.
While women weep, as they do now, I’ll fight; while little children go hungry, I’ll fight; while men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now, I’ll fight; while there is a drunkard left, while there is a poor lost girl upon the streets, where there remains one dark soul without the light of God, I’ll fight! I’ll fight to the very end! -- William Booth.
Real ministry begins in the heart. Remember Jesus’ restoration of Peter?
Jn. 21:15-17. Intensity of the experience; crushed by his betrayal; bruised by the questioning of his love. Learn? 1 Pt. 5:1-4. Real ministry begins in the heart – taking to heart the need for struggle for the flock; agonizing for the flock.
§ A place where peoples’ hearts have been encouraged and are joined together in love
Place where hearts are encouraged is the Word of God – instruction, truth, comfort
Real encouragement does not flatter, but operates out of the truth.
Sometimes encouragement comes via challenge:
A young boy complained to his father that most of the church hymns were boring and old-fashioned, with tiresome words that meant little to his generation. His father challenged him with these words: "If you think you can write better hymns, why don’t you?"
The boy accepted the challenge, went to his room, and wrote his first hymn. The year was 1690, and the young man was Isaac Watts. Wrote 350 hymns:
Alas, and did my Savior bleed
Am I a soldier of the cross
Come we that love the Lord
Joy to the world
O God, our help in ages past
When I survey the wondrous cross
Encouragement comes sometimes via timely motivation.
There was a young man who took a short cut home late one night through the cemetery. And he fell in an open grave. He called, he tried to climb out. To no avail. There was no one around to hear his cries or lend a hand. So he settled down for the night in a corner of the darkened grave to await morning. A little while later another person came the same route through the cemetery, taking the same short cut home and fell in the same grave. He started clawing and shouting and trying to get out just as the first had done. Suddenly, the second fellow heard a voice out of the dark corner of the grave saying, "You can’t get out of here." But he did!
Flowing out of encouraged hearts is unity – but unity in love.
Lots of different places for unity. Politics; military endeavor; sports.
True unity centers in God’s kind of love: the kind that never fails;the kind that covers a multitude of sins; the kind that can be unloved yet respond in love.
Some missionaries in the Philippines set up a croquet game in their front yard. Several of their Agta Negrito neighbors became interested and wanted to join the fun. The missionaries explained the game and started them out, each with a mallet and ball. As the game progressed, opportunity came for one of the players to take advantage of another by knocking that person’s ball out of the court. A missionary explained the procedure, but his advice only puzzled the Negrito friend. "Why would I want to knock his ball out of the court?" he asked. "So you will be the one to win!" a missionary said. The short-statured man, clad only in a loincloth, shook his head in bewilderment.
The game continued, but no one followed the missionaries’ advice. When a player successfully got through all the wickets, the game was not over for him. He went back and gave aid and advice to his fellows. As the final player moved toward the last wicket, the affair was still very much a team effort. And finally, when the last wicket was played, the "team" shouted happily, "We won! We won!"
2. Understanding God’s mystery provides two characteristics
§ The riches of assured understanding
There are spiritual riches reserved for those who encourage each other and have a strong commitment to the body of Christ.
Cartoon/movie theme: Bully facing someone, issuing threats. One being threatened shows no sign of terror. Why? They have some knowledge that the bully doesn’t. Standing right behind the bully is a protector. We have some knowledge that Satan doesn’t have. I know that I know that I know. Deep down certainty of the truth of all this. If you haven’t walked there, I can’t describe it.