Stewards of the Mystery of Two-As-One

Stewards of the Mystery of Two-As-One

Stewards of the Mystery of Two-As-One. 

“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.

Yes, I truly believe that we are all living members of Christ’s body, and as I relate this to marriage, it is indeed an enormous mystery. I may not understand all of this, but I can tell you this… the marriage of 2-becoming-1 is meant to be a vivid picture, a clear illustration of the union between Christ and the Church, the oneness that exists between Messiah and His universal household of faith.” (Ephesians 5:30-32).

St. Paul has confirmed our union within Christ many times, including: “Now you have been united with Christ Jesus and are inside of Him. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to Him through the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13); “There is no condemnation to those who are inside of Christ Jesus, those who belong to Him and are joined in life-union with Him.” (Romans 8:1); “God made this sinless Man to be a sin offering on our behalf, so that in union with Him we might fully share in God’s righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Paul has a very eye-opening passage in 1 Corinthians 6:17 in which he said, “Anyone united with the Lord becomes one spirit with Him.” The word Paul used here for “united” could just as well have been “joined to,” or “knit together,” and is the word used in the Greek OT for “cleave” in Genesis 2:24. Paul used a 2-becoming-1 word in the biblical tradition.

What has been helpful as we consider this mystery of the Mutual Indwelling is the many times Scripture includes an analogy about it, a metaphor that describes a physical union that points to a spiritual union. Looking at a double union in tangible reality will help us think more deeply about a double union in a spiritual sense. There are physical signs in our earthly life that illustrate at least some of the meaning of our union with Christ. Uniting with Jesus as a branch grafted onto a vine is one way (John 15). Another way to picture this spiritual union is through marital relations.

Starting with the definitive word from Jesus: “Haven’t you read the Scriptures about creation? The Creator made us male and female from the very beginning, and for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and cling to his wife, sticking to her like glue. He will be literally joined with his wife, and the two will become one flesh. Husband and wife will be two persons united into one.” (Mathew 19:4-6).

The Spiritual Bedroom. Let’s consider the spiritual aspect of marital relations. Stretching way back to the beginning of the universe, it looks like Creator God designed a secret plan to have intimate fellowship with all those humans of His, all made in His image. God has desired fellowship with us since the beginning. He instituted marriage with that in mind, in which a man and a woman join into a union of 2-becoming-1 flesh. Hebrew scholars have noted that “flesh” in this Genesis context actually suggests something close to a blood relative. That’s how intimate this marriage was to be. God designed marriage to be pleasurable, fruitful, fulfilling, satisfying. And God wanted the marriage to be a foretaste of the desired union with each of us. God, believe it or not, yearns to be intimate with each of us, and what better illustrates that union than a joyful experience of a marital union at the human level? Marriage is a sign that points to the spiritual unity planned for us inside God. So the intimate, pleasurable and fruitful marriage is actually meant to be a sacramental sign, pointing us to our destiny as believers, a spiritual union with Christ! The physical union signifying the spiritual union, the physical reality of marital relations giving us a vivid picture of the spiritual reality of living within Christ. The sexual act, as wonderful as that is, is not intended to be the end of the story. It is meant to suggest the spiritual relations we could enjoy with God. Marriage reveals the type of relationship God wants with each of us. Physical sex, which pretty much involves every aspect of our being, is a profound part of what it means to be human. Sexual activity in a marriage enables each spouse to give pleasure to the other out of love and devotion. Dare we say that our intimate fellowship with Christ, which also demands our all, is a spiritual version of marital sex?

Distorting the Design. Marriage is God-defined, God-designed, and God-ordained. No human person has the right to redefine marriage, tear apart God’s plan, or remove its sacred foundation. God’s plan from the beginning was to create a home in which a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife in a permanent, faithful relationship. The 2-in-1 union of husband and wife was intended to, among the other obvious joys, an exciting reflection of the relationship between God and a believer. So what happens when a society tries to dismantle God’s design? A same-gender relationship, for instance? Or sexual activity outside of a faithful marriage of husband and wife? When that happens, God’s plan is torn asunder, it tragically obscures the understanding of God’s desired union with us. If the sacred illustration of God’s purposes for each of us is broken or rejected or distorted, then the true picture of spiritual union with God will become unknowable. There will be no reference point. Without a pure human experience to point to, how could anyone even begin to imagine the type of relationship that Christ wants us to have with Him? It’s no wonder that the downfall of marriage and family spells the downfall of the Christian faith in a society, and then the downfall of the society itself.