Friday, December 7, 2012

It's a Mystery

I don’t often have conversations with self-professing atheists, not because I avoid them but I don’t have a lot of access to anyone with that mindset. This week was different; this week I had an online dialogue with someone who used really big words. Then she asked me for proof, not just any kind of proof – scientific proof – about a statement I made, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Within two sentences I was stumped. A bit more dialogue between us until she finally said I appeared to be willingly scientifically uninformed. Yep, you got that right. I don’t have to explain everything, especially things that don’t interest me; I’m okay with the mystery. Others, like her, want more information. And that’s okay, too. There are others who can intelligently argue for faith and Biblical claims. I’m smart enough to know it’s way over my head. Tell me when it’s over and I’ll rejoin the conversation.

I wonder if a self-professing atheist has to scientifically prove love or relationships? If I reduced my relationship with my Man to what I can prove, it would seem rather stale and limited. Love and relationships must be experienced. Because the other person is a “variable” (i.e., can’t be “controlled” – those are the extent of what I remember about science experiments), there is always an element of mystery to love and relationship. The closer the relationship and the stronger the love, the greater the mystery.

Several years ago, I was a guest lecturer for a World Religions course at the University of New Hampshire (I was asked to share the Christian perspective – in case you were wondering). In preparation for the course, I read the textbook required for the students to read. It was so dry I had to check my own pulse to make sure I was still alive. The textbook reduced a relationship with an eternal triune God, the Creator of the universe, to about 40 pages.

Anytime we limit God to our understanding, we become our own god. I’d probably become an atheist too if I was my own best hope. But our God is a living God - the only living God - and we can have a relationship with him. Mystery is part of it. Certainly there is a lot we’ve been given to know. Deuteronomy 29:29 says the things revealed belong to us and to our children [and future generations] forever. But since Jesus, we are given into greater revelation of the mystery (Colossians 1:27) but we still have fellowship of the mystery (Ephesians 3:9).

Mystery doesn’t squash questions. Mystery invites you to ask even more questions, and to be fully engaged.

Mystery creates wonder, and wonder is the basis for man’s desire to understand.
~Neil Armstrong

I would not ask my Man to scientifically prove his love for me. I enjoy the process of knowing him better and experiencing his love. Likewise, I don’t want to be able to explain everything about God. That isn’t any kind of relationship – at least not one I want to be in. I want to discover new things about God while we are in relationship. Relationship without mystery is boring.

The possession of knowledge does not kill the sense of wonder and mystery. There is always more mystery.
~Anais Nin

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