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Mystery

29 Nov

Mystery is an invitation. It invites us in to explore, to look around, to discover.

Mystery evokes awe, wonder, imagination, intrigue. The wonder is in the not knowing.

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. –Albert Einstein

Mystery presents a challenge. It provokes action. It moves us from passive spectator to active participant.

Mystery makes for a good story. The murder mystery (the “whodunit”) remains popular today. The thriller movie is popular too. Where is the thrill of discovery without the challenge of mystery?

Mystery puts us in our place. It humbles our mind. It reminds us that we don’t have it all figured out. It makes us depend on revelation. The exploration requires mental work, but work that is enlightened by God, by Gods’ revelation of himself through creation, his Son, his Word, his Spirit, his Church. We are certainly dependent upon Another; we cannot begin to understand God in our own ability.

Exploring the mystery of God requires the revelation of God. We can only begin to explore the mysteries of God based on what God has revealed about himself.

1 Corinthians 4:1 ESV This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

So we are managers of the mysteries of God…

God is mysterious.
God has mysteries (secrets) that he chooses to reveal at a certain time (i.e. the mystery of Christ).

God has mysteries, things he knows that others do not, but God is himself a mystery. While there is much that God has revealed, there is much that remains hidden. This is the nature of apophatic theology. We pursue/worship/know God by what we do not know about him.

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Fear is both a reverence for God and an unknowableness about God.

I can say that I know God is a trinity, but do I really know this? I believe it, but do I know it? Can I explain it in terms of reason? How can three distinct divine persons, be on divine substance? Do I know that God is triune based on a mind that is conditioned by reason and logic? Certainly not. Logically, three cannot equal one and one cannot equal three. So I do not and cannot know that God is One – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But I believe and that is just as powerful. I did not know how the heart surgeon was going to be able to fix my son’s heart when he had open heart surgery at 15 months old, but I believed he could.

Faith can embrace a mystery that repels reason.

All talk of God fails to hit the mark precisely. Catholic Theologian, Luke Timothy Johnson writes: We should be aware that neither the biblical nor the creedal language about God is fully adequate to the mystery of which they speak. They speak truly but not fully. All language about God reaches into a mystery it cannot grasp or comprehend. (The Creed)

For some people, mystery is too much of a challenge, too difficult of an exploration, so they choose to stick with what they know, to rest in the comfort of easy answers.

Easy answers devoid of mystery will always leave people sitting on the sidelines of the Jesus way. To walk with Jesus requires that we embrace certain mysteries and explore them with awe and wonder. To strip the Christian faith of mystery is to sentence faith to its death. Chesterton writes:

Mysticism keeps men sane. As long as you have mystery you have health; when you destroy mystery you create morbidity
G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Your spiritual life dries up when you remove mystery from your faith, because mystery prevents boredom. We are tempted to make Christ a commodity, to dress him up in the latest fashions and make him seem appealing according to cultural standards. He become the Christ who can help you, the Christ who can make you a better person, the Christ who can add something to spice up your life. He becomes the Christ of “seven steps,” “five principles,” “four laws,” or “two keys for successful living.”

This pared-down, manageable Christ-commodity sells. People will buy into it quickly, but when they mistake it for the essence of the Christian faith they become like those who receive God’s word with joy and spring up quickly but because they have no root the sun rises and scorches them and they wither away.

Boredom leads distraction.
Distraction leads to replacement.

Christians who by in to the Christ-commodity ultimately get bored (or disillusioned) with the Christian faith and seek to replace it with some kind of commodity that will bring them the lasting happiness they are looking for.

Let’s not look away from the brightness of the mystery.
Let’s embrace it.
Let’s explore it.
Let’s rise to the challenge and leave the easy answers behind and worship and seek this God veiled in mystery. Especially as we approach the Christmas season.

Christmas is God’s unveiling of his ultimate mystery – the birth of Christ, Jesus the King.

Colossians 2:2-3 ESV …that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, [3] in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I am developing this for Sunday’s message–The Mystery of Christmas. After December 2nd, you can listen to the message online at www.cornerstoneamericus.com/sermons

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Posted by on November 29, 2007 in Theology

 

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