Pointing to the mystery of Christ
This post was contributed by worship leader Mike Hale.
Christ’s birth into our humanity—the once and for all union of God and man—born of the virgin Mary and conceived by the Holy Spirit—is an awesome mystery and miracle that should drive us to our knees in humble thanks and worship.
Yet we are told that many churches have either unintentionally or by design removed nearly any sense of mystery from weekly worship. With an emphasis on doctrine, well-run family programs, pop bands and dogmatic cause-and-effect sermons on obedience and Christian living—with slick PowerPoint productions and a confident business-like delivery that includes an avalanche of texts and factoids—there is little room left for the appreciation of the mysteries of God and the recognition that we are dealing in faith with things of God that are beyond our comprehension. So observes Eddie Gibbs in ChurchMorph (2009 Baker Academic) and in Emerging Churches (2005 Baker Academic).
Dr. Gibbs then explains that some believers are leaving that worship environment behind in search of one that embraces a sense of awe and wonder for the mysteries of God—looking for a community that acknowledges we do not have all the answers, and never will—a place of honest testimony to not being in control of everything, but to being pilgrims on a mysterious and surprising journey, prayerfully and humbly looking beyond ourselves to an awe inspiring God of love and a final destination to which we have not arrived.
Advent and Christmas offer us opportunity to ponder some of the mystery and miracle we may have lost sight of. In the beginning paragraphs of chapter three of Incarnation: The Person and Life of Christ (2008 IVP Academic) T.F. Torrance wrote about the mystery of the birth of Christ into our humanity and the miracle of our knowing Christ:
“Those who are justified by grace, by faith in Christ, are the only ones who really know that they are lost sinners, apart from Christ….(and) those who have come to know the mystery of Christ as true God and true man are the only ones who really know that they themselves are in ignorance, and that by themselves, by their own capacities cannot know the mystery.”Let’s take time to humbly let the Spirit draw us in awe and wonder to the miracle and mystery that is a Savior named Jesus!
“Both the sinner who is forgiven by Christ and the man or woman who has come to see the face of God in the face of Christ, know that they can never master or dominate the mystery of Christ in their hearts, but can only acknowledge it gladly with wonder and thankfulness, and seek to understand the mystery of Christ out of itself, that is, seek to let it declare itself to them, seek to let themselves be told by the mystery what it is.”“They will acknowledge that this is a mystery that is not conceivable in ordinary human thought—it is a miracle. And if they know something of this miracle they will know that even their knowing of it is a very wonderful thing, that it is an act of God. They know the mystery by faith, in the power of the Spirit, but not by themselves alone. It is a gift of God. That belongs to the very content of the virgin birth and its significance for our knowing of Christ.”