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(Un)Solved Mystery

February 2, 2011

“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory . . . But God has revealed them to us . . . But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Cor. 2:7-8, 10, 16)

I recently met with a very intelligent, young man who was having questions and doubts concerning the veracity of Christianity.  This didn’t trouble me too much, because I could remember a season about the same age as he is in which I, too, wrestled with doubt.  God orchestrated several factors in order to bring him to a crisis.  I was blessed to be present to watch the testing of his faith produce a powerful testimony of faith in Christ in response to the message of the gospel of Jesus.  Only gold that has been through the fire can be pure. 

The amazing thing to me was not that this process occurred, but how it occurred.  It wasn’t intellectual arguments that recalibrated his faith.  It wasn’t an attempt to force him into submission that did it.  In the end, it was the gospel of Jesus that turned his heart.  It was the fact that a gracious God bestowed mercy and forgiveness through the ministry of Jesus that resonated with his heart. 

The razor-thin line between faith and doubt seems to rest upon this simple factor:  either the “counter-wisdom” of Jesus and His cross resonates with you, or it doesn’t.  Some will try to make the matter of faith purely empirical.  Some will even think that this battle is mainly about evidence and treat the entire situation like a court of law in which the person deciding is the jury making a decision based upon the evidence.  I’m sure this has been part of the process for some.  However, for most it seems that matters of faith are determined by whether the “mystery” of God revealed through Christ is solved or unsolved. 

The word “mystery” helps us understand why people believe or do not believe in Christ.  I want to explain this concept in several stages. 

First, God created the world with His Word that came forth from His mind, meaning the world is created to operate by God’s ways and values. 

Second, human beings chose a type of logic (or a philosophy of life) different from God’s when we sinned.  Sin is not just an overstepping of boundaries, but is a completely different way of thinking than God’s way of thinking (selfish rather than selfless, prideful rather than humble, etc.).  

Third, this new philosophy that opposed God’s has been accepted by all of humanity as logical and wise, resulting in a rejection of God’s wisdom.  This rejection hid God’s wisdom turning it into a “mystery” or a “secret.”  God’s wisdom has always been present even if it was latent. 

Fourth, God revealed this mystery through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  It is no longer a mystery.  It has clearly been made visible.  However, the cross itself represents a clash of these two competing perspectives.  The power, force, and selfishness of the world was confronted by the sacrifice, humility, and love of Christ.  Rich Mullins proclaimed victory for the wisdom of God revealed through Christ when he penned these words:  “Where are the nails that pierced his hands?  The nails have turned to rust but behold the man:  He is risen.  And He reigns, in the hearts of His children rising up in His name.”   Surprisingly, the seemingly weak wisdom of God disarmed the supposed wisdom and power of the world. 

Fifth, we who believe in Christ have found the “counter-wisdom” (or what the world calls foolishness) of God revealed through Jesus to resonate with our deepest needs and longings and now operate by the wisdom revealed in the mystery.  Those who reject Christ are blind and still enamored with the wisdom of the world or else “they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8). 

Christians individually and churches corporately are in a battle to determine which of the two “wisdoms” will guide them.  Will it be the wisdom of the world or of Christ:  joy in spectacle or service, greediness in the spending of resources on ourselves or sacrificial generosity toward those who are lost and in need, and entitlement of what God owes us or sacrificial allegiance to His mission.  The “logos” (logic, ways, philosophy) of the cross is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18), and we will find that when this logos becomes the rudder of our boat it will call us to live by its wisdom:  sacrificial love, bold generosity, and a posture of service.  These make perfect sense to me, and the mystery makes sense to me even though I realize it is “foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Cor. 1:18).

The  mystery makes sense to my friend I spoke of earlier, too.  That’s why he believes.  My guess is that he has not solved the conundrums of the universe – neither have I, and neither have atheists.  A person believes not because all mysteries are understood but rather because this one mystery has been solved through the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Jesus unlocks this mystery for us, and when we encounter Him, we will believe because no other truth has ever seemed truer and no other offering has met our deepest longings.

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