I got this email a couple of weeks ago from Jack, a good friend in South Carolina. He describes so well what religious obligation can do to destroy the great adventure of engaging the transcendent God of the universe and learning to follow him through the brokenness of this age.
Life in him is full of wonder, mystery, and adventure rather than simply settling into a stagnant routine that no longer quickens the hart.
Kyle Rice and I discuss this email on today’s episode of The God Journey – Recovering Mystery. I knew some of you would like to have it in print as well:
As much I have tried to live inside the Christian faith with the rule of scripture and abundance of obligation, I have touched upon a most unsettling truth. I wonder if I lost something early on in my childhood that stopped me from seeing the mystery in things? Perhaps it was in the growing up that plowed over my sense of mystery. Perhaps it was the becoming a man, that part of being sure of oneself, left off no room for wonder. Maybe it has been the rush to be right.
I don’t know why I lost my sense of wonder. Of great mystery of and in life and in things in particular but, like the dull and faded paint job on an old, old house, there was something once beautiful and today, it has faded. There seems to be a way to control oneself in the course of “normal Christian life” and to that end, tame the Lion of Judah. Maybe it has been covered up in the preaching and teaching of principles and keys of the Christian life. All those good but still left off in the mystery I am realizing that every principle and keys seems shallow, ill fitting, clumsy and useless. I wonder if those that have the most to lose in this “wonder” are those who have paid the most into the formulaic principles of Christianity; those whose needs and egos to control were fashioned in the halls of established religion. Mostly, and most assuredly the doctrines of being Right. Establishment, Creeds, Observation of days and events, Doctrines, rituals, sanctimony and sanctuary and so many more building blocks to dull the heart and blind the soul to the wonder found in the mystery of Christ. We can’t have mystery in the normal Christian faith.
Perhaps they believe in no more mystery and wonder beyond the Incarnation. If we never encounter the mystery of the fellowship with Jesus. We will put other things in that space. Religious things, principles, obligations, appeasements and the likes. Mostly because those who are so called teachers do not know or have not known the expression of life found in a real, living relationship with Jesus- the mystery of falling in love with him. After all the time, I am finding little else but empty cans of beans and burnt marshmallows. Today, I do smell smoke but, from a distant fire. The fire of the Creator of the universe who fashioned us for life and for the love of it gave us the only remedy for it—Jesus Christ.
The wonder and mystery of this for me, is the beginning of all things new. My hearts desire is to know him in the way and ways he wants to reveal himself to me. No formula. No keys. No principles. Just Him. I have the Spirit of Christ in me. Surely this is enough. Finally, I have started to see this—the Mystery that has been kept secret from before the foundation of the world…..what a treasure this is!
Treasure indeed! When the possibility of what Jesus might show you today or where he might lead you no longer sparks wonder and awe in your heart, it’s time to pause and ask him to help you recapture the mystery of Christ in you the Hope of Glory. (Colossians 1:27)