Sunday, March 12, 2017

Mystical Union

The Bible talks about several mysteries, but there is one that recurs more than the rest. Paul wrote about the mystery of the union of man and wife.
"Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church. (Eph 5:31-32)
He calls it a mystery. He calls it profound. And the mystery is that biblical marriage (as opposed to the stuff today so frivolously referred to as "marriage") refers to Christ and the Church. Mystery! A mystical union.

As it turns out, this is precisely a recurring mystery that pervades other texts. In Ephesians Paul speaks of how God was "making known to us the mystery of His will, according to His purpose, which He set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth." (Eph 1:9-10) He refers in Rom 16:25 to the mystery that is the Gospel. Also in Eph 3:3-6, Eph 6:19, and Col 1:26. How is this last one -- the Gospel -- the same thing? Well, Paul explains more in the next verse
To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Col 1:27)
Are you starting to see what this mystery is?

Paul refers to marriage as the mystery that actually refers to Christ and the Church. He says that the mystery was set forth in Christ as a plan ... to unite all things in Him. He says that the Gospel is a mystery in that those who learn it have "the riches of the glory of this mystery", which is ...? "Christ in you, the hope of glory."

Think of it. God's plan from the beginning was to make a people for Himself out of His creation. He wasn't planning to merely make us. He wasn't planning to simply save us. His plan was union with us. What union? The union that the mystery of marriage portrays -- "the two shall become one." The union of the Eternal God and fallen-and-redeemed humans. The union of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit -- the mind of Christ -- in His people. That union. That mystery.

I don't, frankly, understand it. This union is beyond my comprehension. But Scripture is clear what kinds of effect we should expect from it. Jesus prayed,
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, that they may all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that you have sent Me. The glory that You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one even as We are one, I in them and You in Me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them even as You loved Me. (John 17:20-23)
Our union with Christ, as reflected in marriage and as a reflection of the Son's union with the Father, makes us one. "Perfectly one." As a reflection of His love for us. As a message to the world that Christ was sent by the Father. A union with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit that so invades our lives that as we allow that union to influence our lives we become one and God is glorified.

Big. Really big. I don't comprehend it, but I want in on it. And, apparently, anyone who belongs to Christ is in on it. A place to live -- one with Him and with each other. A union beyond human comprehension.

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