Everyone loves a mystery. Yes, except when it comes to God. Then we want everything to be made clear, to “make sense.” (How intriguing that we want the great “Spirit” to “make sense”!)
Of course our faith does make sense, profoundly. Yet there is always an element of mystery, beyond our ken. The God disclosed in the Old Testament had a name that could not be spoken, a face that could not be seen. Then in Jesus God did speak his name, did show his face.
And yet, for all the presence and clarity of that revelation (for in Christ was all the fullness of God that could be known in human form) he is still Mystery … larger than our minds, deeper than our hearts, grander than our most sublime experience.
“My ways are not your ways” he said through the prophet, and Paul echoes that his paths are “beyond tracing out.” God cannot be packaged in a formula, caught in an axiom. Nor can faith be freeze-dried or the Christian life programmed. We will always be children wading beyond our depth.
The gospel, always simple, is never shallow.
“Mysteries” allure us, make us want to figure them out. There is something in “whodunits” that tease our imaginations. But even as we try to put the clues together, the surprise ending is what makes the story. Something in us wants it to turn out differently than the story seems to be … yet in a way that meets our deepest longings. Would we not be disappointed if we could figure it all out? Could it be that way because God has put eternity in our hearts, and we are, as C. S. Lewis said in so many ways, made for another world?
Deep down we seem to know that the obvious does not always have the last word.
In the liturgy of the Holy Communion we confess together the “mystery of our faith”:
Christ has died
Christ has risen
Christ will come again.
The facts of the story are clear. Once and for all history was invaded and changed forever. But the reasons and finalities are not.
The simple gospel of God is something that as a five year old boy I could apprehend. The “mystery of godliness”, the amazing grace and wonderful power of God is something I know I will never comprehend.
I keep pondering what Paul wrote: about “the glorious riches of this mystery” (Colossians 1:27) and this all is “a profound mystery.” (Ephesians 5:32)
(We do need to keep in mind that “mystery” in the Bible l is not a puzzle with no solution, but something secret that has been revealed by God’s Spirit – and will be fully revealed in eternity)