Sunday 11 July 2021: Trinity 6, Fifteenth in Ordinary time, Proper 10
A glimpse of the mysterious
Context: delivered to the bishop’s local congregation of mixed ethnicities, physically gathered to mark Mission Focus Sunday
Aim: to encourage a relationship with God that allows us to see his plans for us in our world
‘Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself …’ (Ephesians 1:9)
I guess that most of us would consider it a privilege when someone decides to willingly share a confidence, an idea, or some secret plan with us. This might usually be a friend, family, or a trusted colleague perhaps. For the person doing the sharing, it is often pleasurable, exciting, or sometimes relieving to reveal their thoughts, plans or ideas.
God has always desired to share himself with his creation. Open communication within a trusting relationship would be God’s standard from the beginning of time. Sharing his will, thoughts, plans, etc., with his creation would give God great pleasure, while the reverse was the case whenever that trusting relationship was broken. However, throughout Old Testament times, God would persevere through Moses and the Prophets to give humankind an insight to his thoughts and plans for his people and his world.
As a student of the Old Testament, Paul would have been familiar with God’s revelations to his people through the relationships he formed with the prophets of old. Such as Amos in his parable of the plumb line (Amos 7:7-8). As a convert to Christianity, Paul would have also learned how God had revealed the coming Messiah to common people. To Mary and her family, to lowly shepherds, to astrologers and then to John the Baptist. All of these got a glimpse of who the Messiah was!
Like Amos, Jesus would then broadcast much of God’s will through parables to the common people. While the learned teachers of the law missed the mysteries that Jesus revealed, those with trusting hearts often grasped or glimpsed that which God chose to make known!
Finally, for Paul, God would directly reveal his true purpose in Christ, which Paul in his previous life could not grasp or even glimpse despite his excellent learning and scholarly credentials. So, in this letter to the Ephesians, he might have had this backdrop in mind when he stated that God, ‘having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.’ (1:9-12)
According to this bold introductory statement in his letter, Paul reminds the Ephesian saints that, they were blessed with all spiritual blessings (1:3), they were God’s choice (1:4), he was pleased to share his will (1:5) and was gracious towards his people (1:7). He later expressed in the same letter that God also wants us to ‘… make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ.’ (3:9 AV)
God is still wanting to have trusting relationships with his people today. It is God’s choice to share the thoughts and intents of his heart with us. This is not reserved for particular people but for anyone who finds fellowship with him, which means it could be you! While a search of what God has revealed to others in past times is valuable, there is no substitute for a personal glimpse into God’s will and purposes! The living God is still actively desiring to reveal himself to human beings today.
Even to those Athenians worshipping an ‘Unknown God’, Paul enlightened them to the following: ‘And he has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.’ (Acts 17:26-27)
For those who seek him, God still wants to be found; whoever we are, wherever in the world we may be, or whatever our background. I pray that you receive a glimpse of God’s mysterious will for your life in this age.
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