Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Why I am a Christian Mystic

What is a Christian mystic? A Christian mystic is a follower of Jesus who believes in and experiences the supernatural realities of relationship with God.  I would like to convince you today to join me as an authentic Christian mystic, one who fully engages in the spiritual realities of relationship with God.

I come from veins of Christianity that are exceedingly doctrinal. I certainly appreciate the need for strong, logical doctrine.  I love theology and apologetics.  Knowledge is a key foundation of the Christian faith. But the experience of God is more than doctrine.  

To live in relationship with God delves into the three realms in which we experience life. These are orthopathy, orthodoxy, and orthopraxy.  Orthodoxy is correct doctrinal belief.  Orthopraxy is correct practice of Christianity.  And orthopathy is correct affections, correct emotion. 

The mystical comes in the relationship with God. Now please recognize the definition of mysticism I'm using here. We are not talking about adding to the Bible, or creating new doctrines, or believing superstitions, but instead we are making the case for the reality of supernatural experience within the Christian relationship to the Triune God. 

To know God and walk with God is to experience the supernatural.  It means to sense God's presence. It means practice spiritual gifts. It means to have the Holy Spirit minister through us. It means to experience dreams, and visions.  It means to discern the will of God.  It means to live a life in concert with God, following the paths He reveals to us. 

It means conviction of sin.  It means battling the flesh in the Spirit. It means joy and peace in struggles.  It means praying and seeing the world change, as God responds to those prayers.  It means being taught by God.

Sometimes we can become so doctrinally rigid that we begin to force out and discount the supernatural, because it can be perceived as a threat to correct doctrine.  

Not that I think we have a great concern in Christianity for our doctrine being "too correct."  More so the opposite.  Modern Christianity is often an exercise in anti-intellectual belief, in which anything goes as long as it makes us feel good. Brothers and sisters, this is not good! 

Yet on the other end, we do see the cessationist gang, eager to discount the supernatural.  Many of which, though I so greatly admire their adherence to doctrinal belief, outright reject the messy supernatural realities of Christian life.  In stark contrast to that, I would encourage a highly mystical walk with God.  

We should experience God in real ways. We should fast and pray, and delight in the relationship with God. We should sense God's love. We should even sense his anger and wrath.  We should sense a call on another's life. We should sense God's power at work (or oddly missing) from our churches. We should discern wisdom and knowledge from God. But of course we must always always test any experience, any insight, and any delight and impulse we experience in our mystical relationship with God against the sharp edge of scripture. 

The height of foolishness would be to embrace some whim that we believe is from God, when it quite clearly goes against His word.  How easily fooled we are at times, when we allow emotions to be our chief guide. One might recall the man who is completely certain that God is calling him to be with a fine and beautiful woman, the only catch being that this woman is married.  And thus adultery becomes a necessity as the will of God.  Of course it never is, but how our emotions can play tricks on us!

How so many respond so powerfully and emotively to political trends, social trends, and various ideas and movements in the culture, which elicit a strong emotional response, a cry for love or for justice, but discover that the ideas behind these trends are contrary to scripture.  And thus we are so often swept away by our emotions.  

The scripture is a check and balance against the emotive experience of God. And the scripture is a check and balance against the practice of living for God, and the praxis checks and balances the scripture and the emotion.  It works quite well.  But if we remove a piece, or overemphasize one piece, we begin to have a distorted perception of God.

To walk with God means to experience the edgy spiritual realities of life.  It means the insane beauty of a sunny beach, or mysterious winter night. It means such a picturesque bright green forest, or gurgling river, that for a moment we can't believe what we are seeing. Yet it also means the horror of a dead animal on the side of the highway.  It means angry arguments. It means gritty spiritual battlefields.  It means looking into the eyes of your new born baby and knowing the Father's love for you for the first time, as you experience that same love toward your own child, made in your image, as you are made in God's image. It means love so strong that it pulls our minds out of this world for a split second, giving us a taste of the infinite. Eternity cries out from the shadows, the canvas edges of this life, calling us to another. And the horrors and evils of the world, in all their gritty, rusty, sharp edges makes us long with broken hearts for redemption, and freedom from sin. All life is filled with the spiritual and supernatural.

So that is why I'm a Christian mystic.  I experience relationship with God in a supernatural way.  I expect to see miracles.  I expect to see lives changed.  I expect to encounter the presence of God.  I expect that I might one day experience a dream or vision from God.  It's supernatural.  It's beyond the normative.  And yes, it may pose what may appear to be a threat to orthodoxy.  But in the end I discover it is not a threat to orthodoxy, but a natural part of spiritual perception in the amazing, provocative and beautiful experience of having God as our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ as our savior, and the Holy Spirit within.