Summary: How do you truly unite people? An unsolved mystery - until now.
Unsolved mysteries: Eph 3:2-12
We live in a world of unsolved mysteries. There’s even a TV show dedicated to discussing unsolved mysteries. Can you think of any unsolved mysteries that have been on the news in the last year or two? Obviously, one unsolved mystery is: where is Osama bin Laden? Where is that guy? We can’t find him, and until we do, it’s an unsolved mystery. What ever happened to Chandra Levy, a young woman working for a congressman who disappeared while she was having an affair with him. No one really knows. Who killed Jon Benet Ramsey? That’s all you heard about for awhile. But that mystery remains unsolved. We have weather mysteries too. Why is it that last year at this time we had a ton of snow. This year, hardly anything – nobody knows. How do you get rid of the hiccups? What’s the cure that really works? People have all kinds of ideas, but for many, it’s an unsolved mystery.
There are some deeper mysteries that remain unsolved – when will Judgment Day come? Why exactly does God allow certain things to happen on this earth? Do you have any unsolved mysteries in your life?
Today is Epiphany Sunday. The word epiphany has the meaning “to reveal” or “to show.” Epiphany is that season in the church year when God reveals some things about himself, shares with you some of his secrets. Epiphany is that time of the year when God solves some mysteries. Today, as we look at the Apostle Paul’s words in the book of Ephesians, we see God revealing things to us that we really need to know, things that are important, and yet things you’ll never figure out unless God tells you about them.
Here’s an unsolved mystery: how do you really bring people together? Isn’t it true that we live in a very divided world? What are things that divide people? Ethnic background would be an obvious one. Even in our own country, there are racial divisions. Religion is a divider too, isn’t it. There’s the false idea out there that all religions are the same – it doesn’t matter what you believe. But if that’s true, then why is religion such a divider? People of different religions separate into different groups because they believe different things. What else divides people? How about your economic situation? The rich people hang out with the rich people. The middle class people hang out with the middle class people. The poor people hang out with the poor people. Money divides people. And the list could go on and on.
The unsolved mystery: how do you really bring all these people together? And I mean truly together. For awhile, our country seemed to be united around a common goal - fighting terrorism and recovering from the attack on 9/11. And to a certain degree, I believe that we are still united around that goal. But has that caused everyone in our country to be really and truly united, on a deep level? Everyone is putting aside their ethnic backgrounds, their religious differences, their economic situations – putting all those things aside, and really and truly coming together in a lasting way? I would say no. Sure, we are united, but it’s a shallow kind of unity. We still have things that divide us and separate us.
Churches have tried to unite people by watering down the Bible, not talking about Jesus Christ. There is a major movement among liberal churches today, to unite. It’s called the ecumenical movement. And here’s how it works – throw out the important things in the Bible, throw out your beliefs – things that you know are in God’s Word, don’t mention Jesus Christ too much, and that’s how you get rid of your differences. Now we all can get together! That hasn’t proven to be a very good solution. Sure, different churches are getting people together, but they no longer believe in anything. They no longer have the truth of the Gospel, the pure message of God’s forgiveness in Jesus Christ.
And so how do you solve this mystery? How do you really bring people together? The Apostle Paul tells us: “Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation.” God revealed to the Apostle Paul how to bring people together. “In reading this, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ” – the mystery of Christ. So the solution to bringing people together has something to do with Jesus Christ. “Which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.” Do you see what this is saying here? The solution to bringing people together has always been around, but it was hard to see. But now, the Holy Spirit is working through the Word – the apostles and prophets – and here in the Word we find the solution to the mystery of Christ. Here it is: “This mystery is that through the Gospel, the Gentiles are heirs TOGETHER with Israel, members TOGETHER of one body, and sharers TOGETHER in the promise in Christ Jesus.”