“In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ…” Eph 3:4
We seek to know something in order to put it into practice and, unless we do so, knowledge will not do us any good. Some of us may pursue knowledge for knowledge’s sake, and nothing more. Indeed, “knowledge puffs up, and love builds up.”
Do people need more insight into God’s mystery, as if mystery itself weren’t quite enough? I don’t think this is what Paul was trying to say. He was merely trying to make God’s mystery more accessible to the common man and bring the mysterious things of God into the light of common understanding.
Surely that was quite a challenging task, for in order to achieve the goal, he had to know God’s mystery very well so that he could digest the whole thing and explain to laymen in a simple manner that they could comprehend.
I am always overcome by a sense of shame when I consider how I used to teach some subjects in college about which I knew very little. I took on the task of teaching Shakespeare, even though my knowledge of the master was extremely limited, yet I did it anyway, which was rather irresponsible on my part. A few years later I was again asked to teach a survey course of Western Civilization, of which I only knew bits and pieces, yet I pieced the little bits that I knew and managed to teach the course. I suppose I did alright, yet deep inside I knew I could have done better, and I really did my students a disservice by accepting the job. I was merely a parrot who regurgitated what I knew about the subject, which was the best I could do at the time and my students must have been mystified by my half-baked instruction.
Am I doing the same thing teaching the Bible and preaching from the Scriptures? This thought does bring terror to my heart, for compared to teaching secular subjects in colleges, this calling is a far more daunting thing since what I am dealing with is people’s eternal destiny and failing to do a good job might have eternal consequences.
How do I gain insight into the mystery of Christ and communicate it to people in a simple and understandable manner? This is a tough question, isn’t it? I can spend hours studying the Word and writing my sermon, yet what comes out from my preaching may still sound like “a resounding gong or clanging cymbal,” full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. People may be overwhelmed by the message, yet unimpressed by the messenger, for there may be a severe lacking of spiritual insight, which can only be attained through wrestling with God in prayer.