BEHOLD, THE MYSTERY DISAPPEARS
Col.1: 26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:27 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:
Col.2: 2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
The faith that once believed on and followed thy Lord Jesus has been stripped of the mystery. It is now proffered as a manual for common sense and reasoned morals as well as a guide for earthly success. The sacredness, the holiness, the majesty, and the mystery are all but gone. Mystery does not suggest that we do not know things, but it suggests that even that which we do know because of God’s Word contains within it a deep and sacred mystery. God is a spirit and yet who can even define the word “spirit”. Many times God gives us glimpses into His nature and essence even though He knows we cannot fathom that which the Word and the Spirit teach.
God desires us to see and approach Him with a certain amount of mystery and reverence and even fear.
But as the days go by and as the church becomes more and more assimilated into the culture, the redemptive truth seems more and more unsophisticated and outdated. In fact, more churches are now concentrating on the improvement of this life through Jesus rather than the John 3:16 theme of eternal life. Eternity is little more than a doctrine and has really no impact upon our lives here and now. We have adopted a utilitarian faith which has man at the center and not Christ. There is almost no mystery anymore.
And when you have eviscerated the mystery from God than you have made Him a servant to man and not the reverse. It is no longer what can I do to serve God. Now it is what can God do for me. And that is not Christianity. That is humanism wrapped up in a shallow package of Christian lingo. Christianity has been so dismantled and so compromised that in the west even the most “orthodox” among us still do not practice the faith in all its sacrificial fullness. There are those who are pursuing repentance and His fullness, but the vast majority are not even concerned about searching diligently the teachings of Christ. And the shepherds are made up of heretics, hirelings, compromisers, and some faithful shepherds who are striving to lead the cheep toward Christ but they themselves are struggling beneath the weight of the culture.
Perhaps the church resisted over a century ago, but in today’s debt ridden local religious organization most churches are content with paying the bills and growing in numbers. And as they grow they need more buildings, more staff, and larger salaries. Fasting and prayer are a diminutive part of evangelical life. Which church advertises “Come, we spend many weekly hours in prayer and fasting”. What kind of growth would that elicit? In fact, which church could even make that claim today? It is a sad and pitiful spectacle to see what has happened to God’s church. We live and act and speak and think like the world and we pretend to be concerned for the lost.
And gone is the mystery that ushers in awe and reverence and a tremendous sense of the Creator’s presence. A half hour of well practiced music must suffice. And if the congregation leaves feelings blessed, then the service was a success. What kind of religion is that? We minister to self and not to God. Do people come to the gathering with a commitment to minister to our God, or do they seek to be ministered to? The stale and predictable services replay each other every week. No one weeps for revival since few even see the need.
In 2005 I sat in the office of a man who was the pasture of a very large church. He had several staff members there as well. During the conversation I brought up the need for revival in the American church. I invited them to see a vision in which God’s Spirit was so moving that repentance was rampant. I asked if they could see the parking lot full of people streaming to get into the service, and so many were there without coercion that many hundreds could not even enter the auditorium and people began to fall on the ground in prayer. In fact, I said, it was so unusual that the secular news media was there to report on this phenomenon. I said, “Does that not create a holy thirst in your soul”? One of the associate pastors looked at me and said, “We are not set up for that.”
Can you imagine the spiritual ignorance that would elicit such a statement? Of course you are not set up for that, and that is exactly what revival is! When the Spirit of God so moves among the people that hearts begin to repent and that lost people are affected by what is happening to God’s people, and when that results in having things happen that you are not prepared for, well, that is the revival of the Spirit. A planned revival where a preacher comes for a couple of days and afterward things go back to normal is no revival at all. That is a religious meeting at best.
And so the mystery has all but disappeared. Slick advertisements and well oiled organizations have become the mainstay while prayer is little more than a token. Yes there are designated men and women to help with parking, ushering, baptisms, offerings, grounds, and almost every detail has been covered. But prayer is left to each individual; it is an elective. And worship is also a well planned event that is constricted by time. No longer do people meditate upon the mystery. No longer does just a mental vision of the Risen Christ affect our entire being. No longer do we fall before the vision of the cross in broken praise and worship.
After a long but steady decline, we now have great and swelling buildings that are equipped with some of the most sophistacted sound systems and climate adjusters and audio visuals. We have come a long way, baby. If it's mystery you long for, you have come to the wrong place. You can set you watch by us. And if you need us we will be either at work or play.