Paul doesn’t ever teach that he received wisdom from God beyond or above that which God revealed to and through Jesus. He does teach, however, that Jesus said and did things, which could not be understood until after he had gone to the Father—God. These things that he taught were laid by God chiefly on him to preach. In some instances, he referred to a major part of what he taught as the mystery of Christ.
The word mystery, in the general sense, means anything that is kept secret or remains unexplained or unknown. It is something that is not fully understood or that baffles or eludes the understanding. In the religious or theological sense, it means, any truth unknowable except by divine revelation. Again, it is a truth that is incomprehensible to the reason and knowable only through divine means. In other words only God can reveal or make this kind of information available. There are other, more specific, definitions of this term, used by the Catholic Church, and by others.
Like Jesus, Paul, and the other disciples, had to suffer for the gospel, or the body of wisdom God had revealed. This suffering was due to the difficulty in getting the people to see and accept what they taught. God used their suffering as a means of purifying them so that they were made better vessels in the transmission of His truths.
Let us look on this in terms of the subject of tests and trials. “What is a test? What makes a test a test? What is done with a test once it is either failed or passed? What effect will passing or failing this test have on you? Just in what way does this particular test which involves Jesus, serve Allah’s purpose?
“When you test something, or someone, you use some means to evaluate. Underlying the means or methods used are some kind of rules or principles. You are trying to determine quality(s).
“Any good dictionary will give the following ideas about the word test: examination or trial; any critical examination or decisive trial; means of trial; subjection to conditions that show the real character of a person or thing in particular.”
“A test is something stronger, more specific than a trial. It is a trial under approved and fixed conditions, or a final and decisive trial as a conclusion of past experiments. In a test you determine something. A test settles a controversy. A test is a decisive trial. A test is a way of establishing something or reaching a convincing conclusion. Like the word “trial,” “test” carries something of the idea of the separation of the good from the bad in a person or thing.
The Holy Qur’an teaches that trials purify. How? What is the process by which trials purify? How does that which is so painful; so uncomfortable; so difficult result in the removal of impurities in our make up or character? Is there another way? Are there any circumstances or conditions that one can be in which one can gain purification that does not involve tests and trials?
Remember, this statement, or idea, (of Holy Qur’an 29:2 “trials purify”) is from the mind of the Author of the Holy Quran, Who, almost from the opening of the words of that glorious book, states that He is the Best Knower.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan taught, in a series of study guides, that we should not be afraid to discover our faults; bad qualities. He even urged us to look for them with persistence and to be happy when we find them. So said his teacher before him. Why should we be happy to find faults, or bad traits in ourselves? So we can more easily get rid of them. It is like the removal of rocks in the road on which we are traveling to a good destination.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said to some of us that it would take him 40 years to understand his mission. This means that the first 40 years of his work among us would ripen him into the ultimate understanding of his mission.
We are tested in many ways; by many factors, in this or that aspect of our being every day. Some of the tests seem so good, that we do not regard them as tests; for we usually associate the concept of “test” with that which is painful, distressful, or the like. If you were given a million dollars, right now, you might not regard that as a test. It is, however. Just because a thing may in fact be pleasurable, beneficial, and good, does not mean that it does not in some way constitute a test, or tests, or a trial.
We usually think of a trial or a test as posing some painful problem that we must bear and/or overcome. Now, of all these kinds of tests, especially those that trouble us most, come from what other persons say and/or do respecting us. The most difficult ones are especially in relation to those whom we love. They say something about us that we do not like, for whatever reason. And they do something to us, or regarding us, that we do not like, for whatever reason. We become distressed, or troubled, to one extent or another. The more we love the one(s) whom we perceive, or who did produce for us the test/trial, the more pain we experience.
Allah is acutely aware of all of this, and watches and when He pleases, He acts to help us, if certain conditions are met. Of course, there are times when He acts to generate the condition in which He can serve all involved without our having done that which produces these conditions. It depends. He knows what is best for every living thing, so says the Holy Qur’an. But let us not get ahead of ourselves.
Those whose words and/or deeds trouble us may or may not be aware that they trouble us, or they may be partly aware. These persons whose words and/or deeds test us, are either more good than bad, or more bad than good. Very, very, very, very, very, very, very rarely do we ever find that we are tested by, or even come in contact with, (under ordinary circumstances) perfectly good persons. We do, however, more often than we think, come into contact with totally evil persons.
(The Holy Qur’an teaches in Surah 18 of a group whose deeds are so foul that they won’t even be weighed on the Day of judgment. I can’t get into all of this right now, it would be too much for this article.
The point here is that, yes, some may have done, or did do, us wrong with words or deeds. We of times become so upset as to lose our balance and say and do rash things.
Most every one of us has fulfilled exactly what this word means. Rash means: acting too hastily or without due consideration; made or done with reckless or ill-considered haste.
Many times we either curse God, as if He was to blame or we, at least, think unfunny thoughts about Him; even to asking Him, or someone, why He didn’t stop this or that, which is giving us so much pain. Later we may see that we misperceived God’s purposes in these situations. If we do, in time, we are blessed.
Those who give us pain may be good or bad persons. They may have done what they did intentionally or unintentionally. All of this is important. But what is infinitely more important is the intention of God in permitting the test; in permitting the trial; in permitting the trouble, the distress, and the pain. Let us remember that the “problem” could not be if Almighty God had not allowed it to be.
More next issue, Allah willing.