God’s Open Secrets

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Romans 16:25-27

The world is filled with secrets. We like secrets and secret places. Victoria’s Secret has been discovered. The secret is that nobody who is older than thirty can fit into her stuff. Jack Gulledge the retired editor of Mature Living told one of his favorite jokes – A mischievous man walked up to an elderly woman and asked, “Lady, how old are you?” She indignantly replied, “Sir, my age is my business!” The man then countered, “Well, lady, it looks like you’ve been in business a long time.”

M. F. Ashley’s Montagu’s book entitled Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race, includes the story of a wife of a Worcester Cathedral Canon who listened to the first announcement of the theory of evolution with consternation. “Descended from the apes!” she exclaimed. “My dear, we will hope it is not true. But if it is, let us pray that it may not become generally known!” Some secrets are worth keeping. Others are too good to keep.

Paul writes to the Corinthian Church and says, We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. The mature are those Christians who have some spiritual maturity. They would not be new converts or Christians not interested in learning more about themselves or God. The ones Paul would say have to be fed with “milk.” No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. God’s secret wisdom? Sounds almost like scripture text from Romans! “…the mystery hidden for long ages past….” What is this secret of God? It is a secret that Paul says, None of the rulers of this age understood it…for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”- but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. (1 Cor 2:6)

The word “mystery,” in the Bible, properly means a thing that is “concealed,” or that “has been concealed.” It does not mean that the thing was “incomprehensible,” or even difficult to be understood. The thing might be “plain” enough if revealed, but it means simply that it “had” not been before made known. We know with God there will always be some secrets or mystery. Where did God come from? Explain the Trinity? We can’t even begin. We can only accept it-a mystery, disclosed in Scripture. Harry Emerson Fosdick once said, “I would rather live in a world where my life is surrounded by mystery than live in a world so small that my mind could comprehend it.”

In a seminary class that forced us to look at our individual callings, I shared about all of the odd things that had happened in my life. The death of my natural mother. The dreams. Some of the unexplainable happenings. One person said, “The mystery of God is very real for you.”

I have always resonated to two quotations: “Life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived” and “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” A Federal Judge lives in one of the homes behind the church. One day a few years ago, the police came and blocked off the whole neighborhood. A package had arrived at the judge’s home without a return address or any identifying marks. The bomb squad found clothes in the package that the judge’s parents had mailed him for his birthday. We fear secrets, we fear the unknown.

Paul’s writing in Romans is a doxology that centers in God’s ability or power to strengthen the readers. This mystery has to do with God’s reaching both Jew and Gentile through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Here is the secret, God will win! He who created the universe will be the one to destroy it and make it anew. He who created humanity will also be the one to judge and redeem humanity. But we ask, didn’t anyone tell the Devil? Satan honestly thinks he is going to win the war.

However, there is only one way you will understand that mystery, through the eyes of the Holy Spirit. Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. Everybody knows the shortest verse in the Bible, “Jesus wept”, but few understand human tears. In 1964, a 16-year-old boy named William Frey saved the life of a 2-year-old girl. He was traumatized by the event but didn’t cry. That experience began Frey’s journey toward becoming an expert on crying and stress. In 1985, he released his groundbreaking book on the subject called, Crying: The Mystery of Tears.

Dr. Frey is a leading neuroscientist and head of the Ramsey Foundation Alzheimer’s Treatment and Research Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is one of the world’s leading proponents of the theory that men die younger than women in part because they don’t deal well with emotions. Women average 5.3 crying episodes per month, men just 1.4. Men’s eyes tear up, women’s tears run down their face. Tears for emotional reasons are chemically different from tears caused by eye irritation. 85% of women and 73% of men report feeling better after they have cried about a stressful situation. Boys and girls under the age of 12 cry the same amount. The difference begins developing in puberty. Generally, boys stop crying between ages 13 and 16, due primarily to societal expectations. Dr. Frey has stated, “The only physiological mechanism we have to alleviate stress that is different from every other animal is the ability to cry emotional tears.”

It was a secret that God instilled long ago when He created you and me that we are just now discovering. Wonder how many more secrets do you and I have to learn? And only through the lenses of the Holy Spirit.

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