I vividly remember the days when I was younger and discovered Sherlock Holmes and then Agatha Christie, to these days with an Inspector Morse or a Rebus whodunit or a Taggart or (best of all) “Sherlock” with Benedict Cumberbatch
It’s pure enjoyable escapism to lose myself in the clues and the back-tracking and the twists and turns until the mystery is finally solved.
Besides the “whodunit” mystery stories we read or watch on television, there are many other mysteries that I know I can’t explain—like how a TV works. How is an image captured and transferred to a signal that travels invisibly through the air, only to be displayed in thousands of living rooms across the world?
Or how does an aeroplane that weighs several tons fly off into the wild blue yonder? Or how does a doctor diagnose and treat a cancer growing deep within someone’s body, giving them hope for a full life, when only a few years ago that cancer was a certain death sentence?
Even our relationships with each other can be quite a mystery—there is always the potential for miscommunication, offence, inequality, and misunderstanding—it only takes two people and a minute of time, and the relationship is off in a brand new direction.
There are many mysteries in life. Some of them can be explained by science. Some of them can’t— there are mysteries that simply cannot be explained.
Shortly before Jesus died, he prayed for his disciples and told them many things that would help them through the next troubling days. But there were some things, Jesus said, that they could simply not understand—nor bear to hear—right then.
The Holy Spirit would guide them, Jesus promised, and give them a power beyond their imagination—the power of Jesus’ love and grace.
This kind of talk was a mystery to the disciples—and it remains a mystery to us today.
The very nature of faith challenges us to see the mystery, to grapple with it, to dig deep within the Scriptures to find clues, to back-track to our basic belief that Jesus loves us, and to trust the Spirit to guide us through life—with all its twists and turns.
In the Great Commission, Jesus ends this Charge to his apostles – to make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father & of the Son & of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them all that he had commanded them – he ends this with these words:
And, behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age
And, you know, it is the Holy Spirit that brings Christ to us throughout the ages
How? It’s a mystery! But Christ’s Spirit of love, mercy and redemption is in our lives.
To have the Spirit is to have God in us, in our hearts, minds and persons.
So we need to be committed to have the Spirit, to have God within us, to have the Spirit within us. Then we can fulfil that Great Commission to tell others about the Spirit who is within us.
The kind of relationship God wants from us can be demonstrated in this story:
During a Sunday service in a little church near Falkirk years ago, as the elders were returning to the table with the offering plates, a little boy sitting next to the aisle tugged at the sleeve of one of the men and whispered, “Please put the plate down on the floor.”
Bewildered, the elder obeyed.
Then the boy proceeded to step into the plate. This was his way of saying to Jesus “I give my whole self to you, not only the money in my pocket, but my time, my strength, my whole life.”
This boy was Robert Moffat, the great missionary to Africa and the father-in-law of David Livingstone.
Are we willing to step into the offering plate so to speak? To give ourselves so that the Spirit of God can rest in us and then we can proclaim that Spirit to the world?