The computing power in an average teenager’s cell phone is a million times more powerful than the computer used to land a person on the moon in 1969. Log on to the World Wide Web and that same phone can retrieve nearly all of the music, art, literature, scientific discovery, and philosophy ever produced, in a matter of seconds. Yet with all this information and data available, the one word that best defines our relationship to God and our universe is “mystery.” There is so much more that we don’t know than what is known...and even the “known” is sometimes barely more than a theorist’s best guess.
So the context of our most faithful desire to know and serve God is mystery. Religious people forget this at times; there is a seductiveness in the familiar comfort of rites, rituals, superstitions, songs, creeds and doctrines. Taking pride in faithful adherence to religion can instill a feeling that we’ve somehow “tamed the mysterious,” and have all the right answers.
But those who humbly follow Christ Jesus as Lord know otherwise. Being a disciple has far less to do with possessing answers, and far more to do with encountering the mystery of God every day. This is sometimes done through worship, as was the case with the wise travelers who worshipped the child Jesus, and sometimes through experiencing the grace that God shows to those “outside our faith,” as Paul did with the gentile believers in Ephesus.
“There are more things in heaven and earth,” said Shakespeare’s Hamlet to Horatio, “Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Understanding the vastness of the unknown mystery makes the mystery revealed in Jesus all the more precious.