I’ve Got a Secret

 

shocking-secret

Can you keep a secret? I hope not, because I know a secret and its one of the biggest secrets ever. So, you have to promise to tell as many people as you can.

This secret comes from God Himself, and its been “kept secret since the world began.” (Romans 16.25) Of course, its been whispered from patriarch to prophet to poet to disciple.

People often wonder about the will of God. Sometimes God’s will seems very clear, and other times, its very uncertain. I often joke with people and tell them that I know the will of God perfectly (I enjoy the skeptical look on their faces). I tell them that all I have to do is open the Bible, and it tells me what I am to do – love my enemies, go the extra mile, love God and my neighbor, and so on. Its all very easy to understand. Yet, when I am trying to figure out the specific details what God wants me to do today, I have no idea of what God wants of me. Should I stay home or go out; should I take this class or the other; should I buy this car or that car;  I can’t figure out what I want, so how can I know what God wants?

So, what is this secret that comes from the heart of God and has been kept secret until now?

St. Paul shares the secret in Ephesians: “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself; That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him…”

At first, you might think “Is that the big secret?”  Yes it is, and it is a big one if you take a moment to think about it. Paul is saying that at the very heart of God is a desire and will that all things be brought into unity in Christ.  This means that all the broken pieces of existence will be brought together, all the division and separation will be overcome, and it will all be done in Christ. So now you know the secret.

We might ask when this will come to pass, and all that St. Paul can say is that  it will come “in the fullness of time.” Paul has no doubt that if this is the will of God that comes from his heart, God has the power to bring it to pass.  This great mystery, this great work of bringing all things together, is the fundamental work of the Church, the Body of Christ. The Lord spoke about the unity he had with God, and the unity he had with his disciples and their unity with him. Given the importance of this work, is it any wonder  that strife and division is such a scandal to the Church and causes us such pain? It goes against the will and intention of God in Christ.

We once believed that our sinfulness separated us from God. We thought that our condition made us repulsive to God. We thought that there was a wall between us. If you’ve  tuned to Orthodox theology, you know that if there was any wall between ourselves and God, it was not put there by God. It was built by our own stupidity and pride (see Tower of Babel for further details). Any sense of alienation or enmity or fear does not come from God, but from our own hearts. God so loved the world that he sent his Son, and God became one of us. His Son revealed the face of  God, and it was not the face of Zeus, but the face of the father of the Prodigal Son. He so completely loved us that He went to the depths of our suffering by the Cross.  Even more, he descended into Hell, to the deepest and darkest place of human experience. In Christ,  the physical and the spiritual is joined, God and the flesh become one and any supposed wall between ourselves and God has been torn down.

There are walls that divide the human family.  The story of the Tower of Babel reminds us that we are separated by language  and culture.  To tear down these walls, God gave us the Holy Spirit. Christ told his disciples to go and preach the Gospel to all the world. This would be a bit tough for fishermen who had never studied languages. Yet, on the Day of Pentecost, the birthday of of the Church, God poured out the Spirit on the Church and the ancient curse of Babel was overcome. Now the Spirit would gift the Church with “tongues” so that they could go and preach to all the world. In the Church, all of the families of the world would become the family of God, separated no more.  In the Church there would be no male or female, Jew or Gentile, slave or master.

Even the ancient curse of our expulsion from the Garden is to be overcome. At the moment, we continue to be at odds with nature. Among all of the animals of creation, we don’t seem to be able to create sustainable habitats without destroying ourselves and polluting the environment. Is there any evidence that this could change? The answer is found in many saints who, when they had gained holiness, lived in peace and harmony with nature. Most of us experience the fear that animals have of us and we feel fear around them also. The Prophet says that the day will come when in God’s kingdom, the lion will lay down the lamb and the baby will play with the snake. In attaining holiness, these saints would anticipate life in this Kingdom. They lived without this fear and many wild animals would come to them like pets.

Here is an another example: St. Paul, speaking of the division between Jew and Gentile, says: “For he is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the hatred…to make in himself of two one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross; having slain the enmity thereby.”  With such a truth is antisemitism ever justified? There are many reasons to judge Nazi Germany as an abomination, but clearly it stood against the will and heart of God.

So it is and so it will be with all divisions and walls, be it between husband and wife, parent and child, citizen and government, neighbor with neighbor, friend with enemy, etc.  Of course, this work of redemption begins in me. Christ works to overcome my brokenness and sense of alienation and self-hatred.  After all, holiness does not mean hyper-pious. Holiness means “to be whole,” and we all long to be complete and whole. We say in our Creed that Jesus was “fully human and fully divine.” This means that He was the only one who ever lived on this planet who was “fully human.” The rest of us are “not yet fully human.”  Christ in us in our hope that we too can become like him and grow into “the fullness of the stature of Christ.”

Christ is “our peace” and his work of redemption brings the broken and scattered parts to unity and wholeness.  St. Paul says, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.”  I remember seeing a T-shirt that had a quote from St. Paul  “At the Name of Jesus, every knee shall bow.” And then they added a conclusion: “COUNT ON IT.”

Unity, peace, wholeness in Christ brought to completion in the fullness of time by the Church, the Body of Christ – now you know the secret! Now you know the will of God. You have my permission. Be my guest and share the secret with everyone you meet.

You don’t have to whisper it.

 

 

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