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The Mystery of Godliness

This passage in First Timothy, chapter 3, verse 16, is apparently part of a liturgical hymn that was being used by the Christian communities in and around Ephesus. It reads like an early credal statement about Jesus Christ. It is a beautiful, powerful statement of the real and spiritual facts surrounding our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Yes, this is a great mystery. That God, the Creator of all that is seen and unseen, the One who sustains all life, in every moment, with his love and mercy, would take on human flesh, to suffer, to die on the cross, to be raised up again, conquering sin and death for us forever, is a mystery of great proportions. It is so great that it can only be known, accepted, and understood in the light of faith. Let us take a moment to reflect and meditate on this great mystery.

God was “manifested in the flesh.” This stunning statement is unique in all of history. That Divinity, would submit itself to our humanity, out of an unconditional, eternal, and passionate love for us, despite our sinfulness, is a matter of complete awe for us. We are humbled by such a mystery. Our response to this immense love is a humble and contrite heart. We bow to this great mystery, not out of fear, but out of a love inspired awe. This act of God, this incarnation of his only begotten Son was, indeed, vindicated by the Holy Spirit. From the day of Pentecost to the present he has been with us. He has not left us alone to survive according to our own devices and designs. He has left us his vindicating Advocate, his Holy Spirit, to teach us, to guide us, to encourage us and to support us through the good times and especially the bad times that come our way. The angels have not only seen him, but have the joy of being in his presence always.

By the Holy Spirit, Jesus has been proclaimed to the Gentiles, from apostolic times to the present, and we Christians alive today are still receiving and passing on that proclamation. From the tiniest of movements, on the remote edges of the Roman Empire, this small “sect” has been proclaimed, and is still proclaimed to the farthest corners of the entire world. Jesus, the One who took on flesh and walked among us, the One who suffered and died for us out of love, the One who was raised up from the dead on the third day, was taken up in glory. All of this was witnessed by his disciples. This is the reality and the mystery of Jesus Christ. This is the mystery that is the very foundation of our faith as Christians. Let us reflect and meditate on this mystery every day, for it is the reason for our being. Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the focal point around which all of history spins. “In him [alone] do we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.” (Acts 17:28)

Lord, Inspire in us a desire to meditate on this mystery every day. Let us bend our wills to yours alone, so that we might live in you, and move in you, and have our being in you in all that we say and do. Give us the grace to live our lives in ways that manifest your love in the world today. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.