Everywhere I turn these days, it seems like someone has the perfect answer to something. Just order their book, buy a subscription to their website, or take their course and you’ll get all the answers you need. It’s as if there is this huge mystery to life, and if we can just figure out what self-help set to buy (because the keys to the mystery are never free!), we’ll figure out the mystery and all will be well.
Naturally, such things are expected in the secular world. It all comes back to the reality that creation was intended to worship its Creator. Mankind was created for a beautiful relationship with God. But sin disrupted it all, and people by the billions walk this earth plagued by unfulfillment. Nothing will change that except a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and as long as they lack that relationship they are forced to seek elsewhere for any possible relief for their misery – and for any key to unlock the mystery.
But seeking such mystery busters doesn’t reside exclusively in the secular world. Take one step into a Christian bookstore, and you will be surrounded by self-help books galore. Emails and televangelists encourage you to buy into their ministry if you want to find the answers you need to Christianity’s deepest, darkest mysteries. You don’t need to struggle with _____________ ever again if you will just follow these steps!
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against books on spiritual growth or other people’s thoughts on Scripture. On the contrary, I love those resources! I’ve read a good number of fantastic books that have helped open my eyes to some depths of Scripture I’d never noticed before. It’s part of our community of believers. We need one another to pair our weaknesses and strengths. We get most of that in face to face interaction with the fellow believers. But, there is also a healthy dose we can get from fellow believers we’ve never even met. We can find it by reading or listening to what they have to say thanks to the beauty of technology and the ready availability of books.
But, as I was reading through Romans lately, I came across a passage that made me stop and think about all of the ways we as believers get carried away relying on the latest and greatest mystery busters of the Christian world.
Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. Romans 4:1-3
Romans 3 talks about the difference between the law of Moses and the new covenant – the reality that anyone who tries to simply approach God on the basis of the law does so with a veiled understanding. But, the new covenant removes the veil and gives a clear vision of God’s truth. And here at the beginning of Romans 4, Paul is reminding the Romans that the passion of his heart is not to reveal – at a cost – some mysterious message that only he knows and can unlock. Rather, his passion is to show them that the mystery is readily unveiled for those who believe.
Essentially, what it all comes down to is this: there is no mystery to the message of Scripture. Everything we need to live this Christian life is right there is God’s Word. We don’t miss it because understanding is hidden from us. We miss it because we refuse to take the time and exert the discipline necessary to see it!
On Friday I’ll share a few specific thoughts about exerting that discipline, but for now I extend a challenge – both to you and to myself. May we be willing to take a good, hard look at our lives and see just what mysteries of God we long to have uncovered. Then may we look even deeper and analyze what we have done to uncover those mysteries. Are we seeking the quick answer from someone who claims to have the key? Or are we willing to get off our lazy tails and dig into God’s Word ourselves?