From Cynicism To Christian Mysticism
It’s entirely possible to live a Christian life without wonder but few would argue it’s the most beautiful way to do it. Wonder befriends our holy fear of a majestic God and walks hand in hand with us through all the parts of our lives we can’t rationalize or understand. In many ways it’s the most active characteristic of a healthy Christian mysticism.
Mysticism, for those to whom the word conjures up images of bearded monks in the mountains, is simply our ability to be one with God and to spiritually discern things beyond our present knowledge through a deeper walk with him. Christian mysticism embraces the aspects of God it doesn’t yet understand and gives us permission to enjoy him regardless. It’s our living out of our renewed selves, from the mind of Christ, in the Spirit of the trinitarian God who always was. It's our embracing both Christ the teacher/Master and Christ the Revealer with equal measure. Now the old person is gone with its living according to the ways of this world and the new person has been born; one who can access the heart of God through spiritually discerned revelation as well as knowledge.
"what we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the spirit who is from god, so that we may understand what god has freely given us. this is what we speak, not words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the spirit, explaining spiritual realities with spirit-taught words."
1 corinthians 2:12-13
But to embrace a personal walk with God through his Spirit - one that isn’t bound by what we know but rather who we know - we have to leave something behind, our cynicism. Spiritual cynicism is both a skepticism of what we can't personally understand and unresolved offense from past negative experiences. It can settle in when we are let down by the way other church traditions, friends or community leaders have outworked their spirituality or when we're hurt by church leaders who have the gifts of the Spirit without the fruit. Cynicism is often justified but it's the most effective way to silence the voice and activity of Christ through his Spirit in our lives.
But what do we do when God speaks to us in a dream? How do we explain the intuition we get around certain people or the empathy we suddenly feel for the person we don’t know? Our cynicism doesn’t stop God moving spiritually in and around us; it simply robs us of our acknowledgment of it.
We are invited to live a spiritually mysterious walk with God. If you need convincing of that just read through the remarkable history of the early church in the book of Acts. We are not limited to only walking in what we can understand, touch or explain rationally, we are invited to walk with a God far more unfathomable than we give him credit for. When we embrace the mystic aspect of our relationship with God we're free to walk in a greater wonder and ultimately, a greater intimacy.
In my view, a healthy Christian mysticsm never forgets that God's nature is never trumped by our experience. In other words, even when things are tough and we don't understand what God is doing we never forget who he is - good. It also allows us to see God's grace as he actively speaks through people who have poor character, because he loves them as much as he does us. Our mysticism reminds us that we know with certainly God's nature - goodness, kindness, patience, graciousness, gentleness, joy, love and mercy - but we will never fully understand the way he moves in our world and our lives. We are simply not God and that should be a freeing not frustrating truth.
So, take a moment today to ask God what areas of your walk with him you’ve become cynical in and allow him to heal the wound. Invite him to speak to you in new ways, outside of your common rationality. It’s called relationship and you may just find your awoken to a God far closer to you than you'd thought were ever possible.