A few weeks before my wife and I moved to Indiana, we got a phone call from a good friend. He was an associate of mine from the church I ministered at in Minnesota, and so it was not surprising that he called. What was surprising was the content of the call. It seems that, while hanging out with his friends, he inadvertently pushed the send button on his cellular phone and called me, only he didn’t know that he had called me. I think I was number three on his speed dial, he had called me and I was now able to hear him as he played a game with his friends—completely unaware that we were on the other end of the line. Now normally, when something like this happens, what do you do? You just hang up the phone right? Well this was one time that that didn’t work. We couldn’t hang up, the phone wouldn’t disconnect. Well, I needed use my email, so I tried everything I could think of to hang the phone up. I yelled into the phone, disconnected the phones from the wall, disconnected the batteries, everything, even called his wife at home (unfortunately he wasn’t there), but no matter what we did, we had no luck.
Eventually I used my cell phone and called the phone company to ask what I should do. They told me that this happens sometimes, a phone “locks” and the call cannot be disconnected until both parties end the call. So Sara and I sat around and listened to my friend as he played his game. Because we had no idea who had called us, we first tried to figure out who it was, once we had that figured out, we tried to get his attention, but after a while we just sat back and listened. Maybe we would hear some great secrets about my friends lives… After about a half an hour, as inexplicably as it came, the call finally disconnected…maybe his battery went dead, and we went away free from any great secrets being revealed.
Why do you suppose we place such value on secrets? What is it about us that makes us so desire to dig them out whenever we find them? Now when I was a kid, I used to eavesdrop on my sisters, but usually found their secrets to be pretty boring. As a teenager, I eavesdropped on my foster-brothers when they talked to their girlfriends, and ran away as fast as I could when they caught me. But what is it in our makeup that gives secrets such a power over us?
We only need to turn the television on in the afternoons to find numerous talk shows where people’s secret lives are being broadcast, and we sit there like too long dead walleyes, but what is it that creates such a hunger in us to ferret out secrets?
It could be that hunger starts in our desire to know, that not knowing is a really difficult thing for us. We feel much more comfortable if we are able to determine with a degree of certainty that such and such is the case. We don’t like guess work. We want to know. But as followers of Jesus we find ourselves in a quandary, a quandary created by the pages of our Scripture for today. Our Scripture today makes it clear that we need to have faith, but Hebrews also tells us that faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. It’s as if we are being asked to be certain of something, absolutely certain, but not given enough evidence to demand that type of certainty. I don’t know about you, but that is just a wee bit disconcerting. Maybe, if you’re anything like me, you’ve wondered about this whole faith thing. Maybe in your darker moods you’ve wondered if maybe, just maybe, it’s all just a fabrication created by a bunch of smart people…or as Karl Marx said, religion is an opiate to lull the people into doing what ruling classes. Maybe you wonder sometimes why we bother gathering here on Sunday mornings. I mean really, what is the point? God can’t be seen, can’t be touched, can’t be in any perceived, so why do we bother? Or to put it simply, why on earth did God make it so difficult to get to know Him? If He’s real, why doesn’t He act real! If He did, then He’d be easy to believe.
My suspicion is that some of you are here this morning because you’ve always come here, some of you are here because your parents made you, and some of you come hoping to ferret out more clearly that secret, that secret which will allow you to make sense of it all, and bring meaning to this life.
I want to share a secret with you this morning, that same secret that the Apostle Paul mentions that we read about in Ephesians chapter three. This secret is the key to why this world is the way it is, and if you grasp it, truly grasp it as Paul did, it will revolutionize your life. Paul first tells us in verse five and six that the great mystery, which actually should be translated secret, is the church…this goofy gathering of people that get together in the name of Jesus Christ is the mystery. A mystery that is reveals the wisdom of God in all of its variety to Well, Paul tells us. It is not simply that we gather, in verse ten we are told “that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”
We gather together in the name of Jesus Christ, believing in his name through faith. And the fact that we do this witnesses to the greater spiritual realms about how great our God is. For if we, not being able to see God face to face. And not able to absolutely determine God’s activity anywhere around us but by faith, yet believe. Imagine what type of witness this testimony gives to the spiritual forces of evil, who though seeing God clearly as he is, yet choose to forsake him. If we, though created spiritually blind can yet see God through faith; what an absolute condemnation that is to the spiritual forces of wickedness who can see God directly and yet reject him. Rightly do the Scriptures say that we shall judge the angels, for we who live our lives by faith have seen God’s future, hoped in it, and dedicated our lives to accomplishing that.
One of the fundamental theological truths, if not the fundamental theological truth, is that God always works indirectly. His actions are always cloaked. Are any of the rest of you Star Trek fans. If you’ve ever watched the old Star Trek episodes, you remember that the klingon ships had the ability to move without being seen or sensed, their passage could easily be dismissed as something else. So with our life of faith in God. The activities of God in our lives can always be mistaken for something else, or misinterpreted as simple coincidence or good luck. The life of faith sees the future that God has promised us with Him as the fundamental driving force that carries us forward, riding the wings of hope to the day when we shall no longer see through a glass darkly, but face to face. The life of faith believes God’s promises, for He keeps them, and trusts Him though there are countless reasons why the alternative could be confronted. The life of faith is continually confronted by doubt, but is energized through hope, which overcomes despair, and empowers our life.
The reason we gather together, claiming the name of Jesus though there are thousands of reasons why we should be doing anything else on a Sunday morning is because we’ve got a secret; we are a secret. We are a secret broadcast to the universe of God’s goodness. And while we gather we hold tightly to our hope in God; spur one another on to greater good deeds; and above all encourage one another. This is what is called fellowship
Do you recognize how powerful a force fellowship can be? You have within you the ability to recognize another’s gifts, and encourage them verbally, emotionally, and every other way. By so uplifting one another we become a place that people can’t stay away from, don’t want to stay way from, wouldn’t dream of staying away from.
Would you pray with me.