This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles – for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given to me for you, and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow-heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.
We don’t often think of Paul as a Mystic. He gets accused of being many things, but not often that. And yet here he is inviting us into the mystery that is Christ… The Reformers loved Paul because he seems so keen on doctrine and rules and order but at the heart of Paul’s message to the new church is the idea of mystery.
Mystery requires something of us. It needs us to be open, adventurous, creative and trusting. It demands more than a little courage because to step into a mystery is, by very definition, to step into something unknown and into something that doesn’t follow the normal rules and patterns.
Grace, the gift Paul presents to his readers, is one of those mysterious things that doesn’t follow our rational, enlightenment way of thinking. Sharing in one body, all heirs of the kingdom, doesn’t make any sense in a world ruled by a military empire, but that is exactly the mysterious promise we are invited into, to step out of the way of the world and into the mystery of God.
Mysterious God Beyond all knowing And yet known in Jesus, Beyond all our rules and doctrines And yet willing us into relationship, Beyond our boundaries and borders And yet as close to us as our breath, Help us step beyond the comfortable and familiar Into the expanse of your infinite love. Amen
The Rev’d Stewart Cutler is Minister, St Ninian’s, Stonehouse LEP