Stewards of the Mystery of Christ Within

Stewards of the Mystery of Christ Within

Stewards of the Mystery of Christ Within.

“A person should consider us in this way: as servants of Christ and as stewards of the mysteries of God. Think of us as Messiah’s official underlings and as those who are entrusted with the mysteries of God.” (1 Corinthians 4:1).

SERVANTS: (Greek, “hyperetas”); literally the under-rower, the lowly person pulling the oars on the lower deck of the ship; the underlings; the subordinates who have special orders. A servant of Christ is one who is content to decrease while Christ increases, who considers it a privilege to serve Jesus in a way that is hidden, humble, and full of trust in God’s purposes.

STEWARDS: (Greek, “oikonomos”); literally the manager of a household responsible to dispense what is needed; the custodian in a home given the responsibility to carefully distribute the necessities when needed; managers; caretakers; trustees, or those entrusted with important responsibilities from the owner of the house. In this context, to responsibly take care of the revelations of God and disperse the knowledge of God’s mysteries in a way that would honor the owner’s wishes; to carefully explain the revealed secrets of God’s in a responsible way; to guard the sanctity of what God has decided to reveal. A competent and faithful steward would be one who “holds the mystery of the Faith with a pure conscience.” (1 Timothy 3:9), since we are also called to be “stewards of God’s grace.” (Ephesians 3:2).  So if God has anything to do with it, these stewards of God’s mysteries must “speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15).

MYSTERY: (Greek, “mysterion”); a sacred secret hidden in the heart of God until the appointed time of revelation; a truth that can only be known by divine disclosure; spiritual insights into God’s way of thinking and planning; hidden truths revealed by God that are beyond human intellect and reason; divine knowledge that can only be understood through the Holy Spirit; God’s thoughts and plans revealed to believers and hidden to skeptical doubters and those who choose not to believe.

“I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness – the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  (Colossians 1:26-27, NIV).

Here we find St. Paul summing up the gospel in two joined phrases… “Christ in you the hope of glory.” He is offering here the greatest mystery of all, a phrase that states the “word of God in its fullness.” There is no other religious leader who actually intends to dwell in his followers. Mohammed didn’t promise that, Buddha didn’t, nobody did, except Jesus Christ. This phrase is only the first part of the mystery. An additional divine secret was revealed by God here: the God of the Jews, the Chosen People, who himself was Jewish, is promised to the Gentiles as well! The Hebrew Scriptures talk about the salvation of the Gentiles, but nowhere is there a sense that God himself will dwell within the Gentile! This is something utterly new, unexpected, unprecedented. This revelation had people scratching their heads in Israel. “Christ in you,” the Bible says. Not merely near you, or around you, or with you, or for you, but in you. This is the mystery for the ages, revealed to the world, to Gentile and Jew alike, by the Son of God. The Trinity of God wants to make a home in us! The Creator of the universe wants to live in us and enjoy fellowship with us!

“Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with Him, and He with them. And we know He lives in us because the Spirit He gave us lives in us.” (1 John 3:24).

“Our fellowship is with the Father and with His  Son, Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3).

“He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognize Him. But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you.” (John 14:17).

“When I am raised to life again, you will know that I am in my Father and you are in me and I am in you.” (John 14:20). (note: this mutual indwelling spoken of here is another mystery that stretches the mind, for sure).

“And Jesus replied, ‘All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.” (John 14:23).

What does this indwelling process look like? Again, remember this is in many ways the mystery of mysteries, according to St. Paul. But we get a little picture of it in Revelation 3:20“Look, I am standing at the door, knocking. If one of you hears me calling and opens the door, I will come in to share a meal at that person’s side.” (the New Jerusalem Bible version). So this is a simple glimpse of this mysterious process… Jesus knocks on the door of your heart and calls to us; we listen to this knocking and calling from inside the door; we open the door and invite Him inside our heart; Jesus walks in and desires to have a fellowship meal together as friends. That seems to be the general picture in simple terms, though it remains a mystery in many ways.

Notice that Jesus didn’t enter into our heart and first thing try to clean up the place, or tell us what to do, or begin some rebuilding projects? The first thing Jesus wanted to do was to have table fellowship, to share a meal as friends. Jesus settles into our heart by breaking bread and establishing an intimate companionship.

Notice that He initiates the process, but we are expected to hear him knocking and calling. Is our life too loud, too noisy, too busy, to preoccupied to actually hear Him at our heart’s door? Is our lifestyle such that we invite Him in but then give short shrift to Jesus as He sits at our table alone, waiting for us to sit down next to Him in friendship? Remember that this door has no outside door knob. There is no way for Jesus to open the door from the outside, it must be opened by us from within. He stands there patiently knocking on the door, calling to us to be welcomed in, but He won’t just barge in uninvited, He won’t break down the door, He won’t bang loudly on the door like some obnoxious salesman. Jesus is the ultimate gentleman, giving us the choice as to whether we invite Him into our heart for divine fellowship. He will only make His dwelling in us if we choose to let that happen.

This door-knocking scene recounted by St. John hearkens back to the Hebrew Bible, to the lover in Song of Songs 5:2, and Jesus is the lover of our souls waiting to enjoy sweet communion with us: “O listen! It’s the sound of my love knocking, calling! ‘Let me in, dear companion, dearest friend, my consummate lover! (MSG).

It’s clear to St. Paul that Christ in us produces a related mystery:  the hope of glory, an expectation to see the fulfillment of God’s promise to restore all of creation. With Christ in us, we expect a coming time for our glorification, when we will be lifted into the glory of His presence, sharing in His divine nature, sharing meals together for all eternity. Christ in us produces an expectation of reaching glory-land, of being a full participant in heaven’s glory.

“There is a divine mystery – a secret surprise that has been concealed from the world for generations, but now it’s being revealed, unfolded, and manifested for every holy believer to experience. Living within you is the Christ who floods you with the expectation of glory! This mystery of Christ, embedded within us, becomes a heavenly treasure chest of hope filled with the riches of glory for His people, and God wants everyone to know it! (Colossians 1:26-27, the Passion Translation).

“Dear friends, that’s exactly who we are right now: children of God. And that’s only the beginning. Who knows how we will end up! It is not yet apparent what we will become when Christ appears. What we do know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we will see Him. And in seeing Him, we will be like Him, for we shall we see Him as He truly is. All  of us who focus our hope on Him, who have this eager expectation… All of us who look forward to His Coming should stay ready, with the glistening purity of Jesus’ life as a model for our own. We need to keep ourselves pure, just as He is pure.”  (1 John 3:2-3, a weaving of many different Bible translations).

4 Replies to “Stewards of the Mystery of Christ Within”

  1. A beautiful reminder, Steve! I’ve been thinking about this kind of mystery a lot lately. Thank you for pulling it together so well.

  2. Christ in us, the hope of glory! Wow! Lot’s of ways to think about this, but it’s truly a humbling thought and a challenging thought. May we be spiritually formed in such a way that Christ in us is truly the hope of glory!

  3. So Steve. This post wouldn’t let me go. I’ve spent an hour reading, pondering, re-reading. Jesus Christ inside of me!!!! Thank you for sitting at table with Jesus, listening, so you would have this fresh bread to give us. I especially liked:

    Notice that Jesus didn’t enter into our heart and first thing try to clean up the place, or tell us what to do, or begin some rebuilding projects? The first thing Jesus wanted to do was to have table fellowship, to share a meal as friends. Jesus settles into our heart by breaking bread and establishing an intimate companionship.