Friday, May 25, 2012

Embracing Mystery

My greatest sin is the same sin as Eve's sin.

I want to know everything.  I want to understand everything.  I want to life to make sense.  I want to know how stories end.  I want to know what will happen next.  And I want to know why.

Uncertainty makes me crazy.  I get anxious.  I hear, "Trust God" in the recesses of my mind, and I try, but I don't.

And I hear God asking me to embrace His mysteries, to embrace the unknown.  It's hard for me.  I want to predict what He will do next.  I want to figure Him out.  I want to understand Him and explain Him.  And the more I try, the more frustrated I am.  His paths are beyond tracing out. 

I've been reading Leonard Sweet's What Matters Most: How We Got the Point but Missed the Person.  In this book, Sweet focuses on our faith as a living relationship with a God who loves us, a relationship we will never fully have a handle on, a relationship that demands we enter into other relationships as well, the relationships that matter to God.

We must enter into relationships with the people God has relationship with.  And people he loves but does not have relationship with.

We must enter into relationship with created things.

It all matters.

It is a mystery.  We do not understand; we cannot understand.  And that is okay.  It's better than okay.  It's good.

Sweet writes:
Being a Christian is more about relationship with God than believes about God; more about the presence of God than the proofs of God; more about intimacy with truth than the tenets of truth; more about knowing God's activities than knowing God's attributes.  It is time to move from a religion that seeks to comprehend God to a relationship that seeks to encounter and be a home for God--to move from points to propositions and moralisms to mystery and paradox and participation in the divine life.
Relationships only stay alive by retaining the mystery.  Once something is fully known, it dies.  Relationships need strangeness and unpredictability.  It's the same with our relationship with God.  All relationships are dances of communication and concealment.  
Anyone who talks about God doesn't know what he or she is talking about.  God is another name for mystery.  
Moses to God: What is your name?
God to Moses: I will be what I will be. 
Moses spoke to God face-to-face, "as one speaks to a friend."  But Moses wanted something more than God's face.  Moses wanted God's mind.  Moses wanted more than just seeing and experiencing God.  Moses wanted to go into the mind of God.
And God said no because ultimately God is unknowable.  If we knew everything, we would no longer be strugglers with God.  Until the day we will see God face to face, we will only know "in part" and at best through a glass dimly.  Until then, we will never know all that we want to know.  We will never understand all that we want to understand.  
The paradoxical nature of biblical truth, where the relationships between opposite extremes is the essence of truth, should make Christians quite at home with contradictions and contritions.  
I must embrace mysteries.  I must be okay with a God who is bigger than my intellect, who does not answer all my questions. I must be okay with struggling with God, with blurry vision, so to speak.  This is the essence of faith.  

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