We prefer everything figured out. After all, we have the Bible. Sola Scriptura…all the answers we need are all right there…in print.
We believe in the holy trinity…God the Father, Son, and Holy Bible.
Why do we need mystery?
Okay, I’m being a bit facetious but, as much as we think we’re post-modern and all that, we’re still very much tethered to Enlightenment thinking. Our mindset is still a Newtonian closed universe, and like Descartes, we think its workings can be reduced down to that of a watch. We’ve inherited several generations of “seeing is believing,” confident that science and technology will eventually answer every question. Yes, Morbius, someday we’ll have all the knowledge of the Krell.
And who needs mystery when we have Google, right?
So it only makes sense that our pastor (or favorite teacher/leader/theologian) would also have it all figured out for us, because not knowing is unsettling. Uncertainty is the forbidden sin that must be vanquished or not mentioned.
I totally sympathize with this. I’ve always loved science and technology. I want everything figured out, too. The problem is, God’s creation is so much bigger than our ability to fully grasp, let alone…grasp God!
Watch this short clip for a short trip through His creation. Then we’ll talk some more on the other side…
Now, this clip is only showing us the part of creation we can see, not the ten or more dimensions we can’t see. These other dimensions are not just too small or too far away. They exist outside of time and space.
And yet, all of this is still inside of Christ!
16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Col.1:16-17 NASB *)
But not only is there nothing outside of Christ, Christ is inside of you! See what Paul said earlier:
26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Col.1:26-27 NKJV *)
These are not theological arguments. They transcend all human logic and defy intellectual rationalization. We have no mental grid to even ask the questions for what we’ve been thrown into.
You can’t study yourself into this mystery; you can only embrace it. It cannot be contained in our heads; we can only understand it in His head (see 1 Cor.2:16). It only comes through revelation, not by education. And even then, it defies all explanation.
What is mystery? I agree with Richard Rohr when he says that mystery is not never knowing…it’s ever knowing! It’s having “the knowledge of Christ” (Eph.4:13); it’s going from glory to ever increasing glory. And this is the work of the Spirit in us as we participate in the divine nature (2 Pet.1:4):
18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.(2 Cor.3:18 NIV).
Here’s how living in mystery is contrasted from natural thinking. First, notice the contrast that Paul makes between what we have no way of knowing and what the Spirit reveals to us:
9 But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. (1 Cor.2:9-10 NKJV *)
This is Paul’s point: human eyes and ears have not seen but we should see. And our “seeing” is from the Spirit in Christ.
Then, notice how Paul contrasts natural learning from Spirit learning:
13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor.2:13-14 NKJV *)
We can’t get this by going to school or learning the original languages. Yet, Paul is saying, over and over again, that we should know this mystery (see also Rom.11:25; 1 Cor.2:7; Eph.1:9; 3:5,9; Col.2:2).
Why should we embrace mystery?
Because God has thrown us into the middle of His fathomless, endless ocean. We’re not meant to live on the shore; we’re called to be liberators into something more wonderful than we can ask or think. But we cannot liberate from what we ourselves are still bound to…not that we’re to be freed from this world, but freed from the “mind” of this world (more on that next week).
We should embrace mystery because to not do so means we’re forever limited by our own thoughts. Beloved, we’ve been given a life of knowing a love that’s beyond our knowing, that guards our hearts and minds by a peace that surpasses understanding (Eph.3:19; Phil.4:7). It doesn’t require a high I.Q., it requires childlike faith.
The more we understand this mystery, the more we see that putting all our confidence in knowing things through human understanding is misguided, and that walking in humility and awe-struck wonder is better than walking in ignorant arrogance.
20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph.3:20-21 NKJV)