DayBreaks for 11/22/17: A Great Mystery
From the DayBreaks archive, November 2007:
You’ve probably gathered by now that I’ve been interested in the topic of godliness lately. I’ve been preaching a series of messages from 2 Peter 1, and since Peter wrote about godliness, even saying that we need to make every effort to add to our “perseverance, godliness,” it’s rather caught my attention. Godliness could be defined as being “like God”, or “like Jesus”. Well, since none of us have ever seen God or Jesus, it’s a bit hard to know what that means in all its entirety.
The apostle Paul, as he often does, digs deep into the topic of godliness, too. Perhaps one of the most intriguing passages of Scripture on the topic, yet one I’d not really contemplated too much before, is found in 1 Timothy 3:16, where the apostle Paul wrote these mysterious words: Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great: He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory.” Paul, describing Christ, says that the mystery of godliness was revealed by certain things relating to the life and person of Jesus. In particular, there are six things about the godliness that Christ demonstrated (as noted by Mark Buchanan in Hidden In Plain Sight:
FIRST: he appeared in a body. Now that doesn’t sound all that godly, does it? In fact, it sounds rather human. I think what Paul was getting at might have been this: Christ, in the flesh, made God accessible – and personal. Before, we could only imagine God, but in Christ, we could see Him. Being godly means making Him accessible to those in our world.
SECOND: Jesus was vindicated by the Spirit. One of our least godly characteristics is our intense desire to vindicate ourselves – to make ourselves look good to others, to show that we ARE good and that we are not bad. Jesus didn’t worry about how others would perceive him. He was more than willing to let God vindicate him – which He most certainly did by raising him from the dead. Godly people don’t worry about pleasing others – but entrust God to vindicate them before their enemies in His time.
THIRD: Jesus was seen by angels. Throughout his life, Jesus was aware that life consisted of more than meets the eyes. Angels ministered to him at various times. He lived with an awareness that this world isn’t all there is. People who are godly know and understand that we are “playing” out a scenario that is viewed on a heavenly stage and that the main audience we live for is not earthly, but cosmic. When we remember that angels and God are watching us, it could change a lot in how we live!
FOURTH: Jesus was preached among the nations. While Jesus himself lived in Palestine nearly his entire life (except for a brief sojourn in Egypt), the message of Jesus has been preached throughout the world. His message was for the world, it was not something to be hoarded and kept in a righteous little box. His influence goes far beyond where he lived. Our influence, too, should be global, and we should be engaged in carrying his message to the world – we should, like Christ, have a global influence.
FIFTH: He was believed on in the world. It’s key that he says, “…in the world.” We would have expected people in the “church” to believe on him, but even those in the world believed on him. Part of the reason he was believed upon was because of how he lived his own life. And when people believed on him, their world was turned upside down and changed for the better. Godly people are supposed to have an influence outside of the church walls – in fact, that’s where our primary influence should be felt. That’s where the non-believers are!
SIXTH: Jesus was taken up in glory. He wasn’t caught up with glory – he wasn’t a “glory-hog”. He was taken up “in glory.” His life had a purpose and an ultimate reward. Godly people will live in such a way that, though we live in the here and now, we never take our eyes off the “forever” towards which we are moving, and the reward that awaits us there. This is motivation for us to be godly.
What is godliness? Maybe you’ve not thought about this verse in that way before, but I think Buchanan was onto something good. Everything there is to be learned about being godly can be learned at the feet of Jesus.
PRAYER: Thank You, God, for the mystery of godliness that has been revealed in and through Your Son. May we imitate the One You sent. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.