I want you to know how glad I am that it's me sitting here in this jail and not you. There's a lot of suffering to be entered into in this world—the kind of suffering Christ takes on. I welcome the chance to take my share in the church's part of that suffering. When I became a servant in this church, I experienced this suffering as a sheer gift, God's way of helping me serve you, laying out the whole truth.
This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time, but now it's out in the open. God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, therefore you can look forward to sharing in God's glory. It's that simple. That is the substance of our Message. We preach Christ, warning people not to add to the Message. We teach in a spirit of profound common sense so that we can bring each person to maturity. To be mature is to be basic. Christ! No more, no less. That's what I'm working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives me.
I want you to realize that I continue to work as hard as I know how for you, and also for the Christians over at Laodicea. Not many of you have met me face-to-face, but that doesn't make any difference. Know that I'm on your side, right alongside you. You're not in this alone.
I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God's great mystery. All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else. And we've been shown the mystery! I'm telling you this because I don't want anyone leading you off on some wild-goose chase, after other so-called mysteries, or "the Secret."
I'm a long way off, true, and you may never lay eyes on me, but believe me, I'm on your side, right beside you. I am delighted to hear of the careful and orderly ways you conduct your affairs, and impressed with the solid substance of your faith in Christ.
My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you've been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You're deeply rooted in him. You're well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you've been taught. School's out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.
It’s no secret that baseball is my favorite sport. Growing up, I would have said hockey, with baseball close behind. Over the years baseball has eclipsed all the other sports. There is now no comparison for me. Opening Day is a holiday for me. I get delicious food and watch baseball for 12 hours straight. It is the best.
Part of this love of baseball came as a result being able to watch my son grow up in the game. He had fantastic coaches. For many years I was able to be on the bench as a scorekeeper and as a result learned a lot. One of the things that really struck me was that the execution of the fundamental skills were often the difference between winning and losing. Sure, there were some talent gaps but more often than not, it came down to catching and throwing. You may wonder about hitting, but, hitting is a different beast altogether. You can’t control what happens when the ball leaves your bat. Some of the best struck balls I have ever seen were caught. So, what can you control? Catching and throwing. The absolute basics.
This morning as I process through this remarkable section of the ancient text I was blown away by this, “To be mature is to be basic. Christ! No more, no less. That's what I'm working so hard at day after day, year after year, doing my best with the energy God so generously gives me.”
As I think about my Christian life I am realizing that when I first started to be serious about Jesus it was simple. I was thankful for how Jesus loved me and that Jesus forgave me even though I didn’t deserve it. Then it got complicated in my pursuit of maturity. The pursuit of the theological depths of Christianity drove me for years and years. I am beyond thankful for this time. I learned how to think and read and process information. As a result, I think I’m pretty well read when it comes to the theology and doctrine and the Scriptures. But man, it got complicated.
Now, I’m sitting here in my home office looking out over my neighborhood thinking about the Scripture and my upcoming walk and all I want for my neighbors is for them to know that they are deeply loved, forgiven, and accepted by God. As I think about me, I am realizing that what I want more than anything is a deeper recognition of that same love, forgiveness, and acceptance. Too often I’m unloving, unforgiving, and divisive which puts on display for the whole world that I have not yet fully grasped the reality of the love, forgiveness, and acceptance that is in Christ.
To be mature is to be basic.
School's out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.