“Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:” (Colossians 1:24-27 KJV)
A mystery? We all love a good mystery! Our first clue does not seem to help with this puzzle though. Suffering? What for? Why? If anything you would think a little pain would open your eyes rather than make the picture cloudy. Yet, it is when we are in suffering that we have the hardest time seeing anything beyond the pain because the pain has become our immediate concern. Our second clue does put the center piece in place. “Christ in you, the hope of glory” If Christ is a mystery to them then those who follow Christ will be at least as big a mystery as well. The mystery only becomes any less a mystery to those who follow Christ. The mystery is why anyone would surrender the management of so many things over to Christ, follow Him in their everyday tasks, and in turn trust in His sufficiency.
For instance, if someone wants to learn the wonder of a pocket smart phone, then they buy one, take it apart, seek advice from a developer, or just play with it until they understand it. Some may even resort to reading the instruction manual. The purpose of understanding a smart phone is to understand it’s capabilities. That is it’s capabilities as far as how useful the gadget is to the person interested. God, unlike another person, group, system, program, or even a gadget; is not, from a fallen Man’s perspective, useful to them. We learn to serve Jesus. In the course of learning how, we learn a great deal more including what needs to be used for what purpose. This is a huge mystery to someone on the outside. When you have Christ in you and His Spirit guiding you, you process situations differently. You look at things with a different perspective. You notice details that no one else cares about. You genuinely see a hope of glory long before you are called to glory. The mystery can only be revealed to the saints because it requires the premise of Christ as the foundation. If there is not an acknowledgment of our insufficiency and an acceptance of His offer of grace, then we have forfeited our ability to discern the beauty of the mystery.
I am reminded of the words of Wormwood’s affectionate uncle Screwtape. “Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.” (The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis page 40) It is a shame that to so many “Christ in you” is an offensive stumbling stone (see 1 Peter 2:8).
“But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?” (Job 28:12 KJV)