Fathom Mag

The Mystery of God

Embracing the mystery of God leads to intimacy

Published on:
November 7, 2016
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4 min.
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I really like to learn. My friends can attest that I am a repository of random (and often useless) facts. I spend more time investigating my curiosities on my smartphone than I do on social media. I was like this as a kid too. Every night I would ask my mother what my schedule was for the next day. I needed to know.

When it came to Christianity, I knew the facts but hated the mystery. I distinctly remember sitting on my parents’ bed asking them to explain eternity to me. Okay, so when does it end? Never? Not possible. Unacceptable! I cried because I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I wish I could go back and tell myself to take it easy.

When it came to Christianity, I knew the facts but hated the mystery.
Drew Fitzgerald

But I still don’t like mystery, especially in matters of faith. That sentence is contradictory, I know, but I don’t think this is an isolated experience. Our most common question in times of trouble is “Why?” We want to know what is going on, asking God to dispel the mystery of causality and determinism. A common argument against belief in God is “I could never believe in a God who . . .” which essentially means that person could never believe in a God they could not imagine and understand. In that case, the only gods we have are those made in our own image. We want to be able to wrap our minds around God, to fully understand him and his actions. We don’t like the mystery. 

Before I go further, I think it’s necessary to say that a thirst for knowledge is a good thing and a thirst for knowing God is a holy thing. But how we react to not knowing can be a bad thing. God is not accountable to us for his actions; therefore, we are not owed answers. Furthermore, God does not need our consent to be God, and therefore does not need our approval to contradict our cultural norms. 

To understand the mystery of God, we must first admit our own limitations. Every human begins life knowing nothing beyond eat, sleep, poop, and breathe. Ignorance is the natural state of humanity and it is impossible to learn everything there is to know. How did we decide that we have the capacity to plumb the depths of the infinite mind of God? Why do we act as though the presence of doubt is a noteworthy proof against our faith and God himself? Faith by its very nature should cause you to ask questions and seek greater depths. Doubt and ignorance in themselves are no evils. We must admit and accept that, because of our nature and limitations, there necessarily will be mysteries throughout our lives.

Holy Hauntings | No. 2

It also stands to reason that an infinite, all-powerful, all-present, all-knowing God necessarily must be beyond our scope of comprehension. We can have a sufficient amount of information about God in order to interact with him and know his character, but we could never understand the scope of understanding God has.

Take the experience of Job, for example. Job is the marquee book of suffering in the Bible. When Job asked why he was suffering, God did not answer. It is important to note that God didn’t ignore Job or get upset at him for asking. When Job accused God of wrongdoing, God showed up in a tornado to confront Job. This is how God’s response begins: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” This was the first of over sixty questions God asks Job. He begins with the creation of everything! In essence, God was saying, “If you do not understand how I made everything, you will never understand how it is held together. You will never comprehend the innumerable intersections of people and events that all lead to my purposes.” 

An infinite, all-powerful, all-present, all-knowing God necessarily must be beyond our scope of comprehension.
Drew Fitzgerald

Science has yet to answer God’s sixty questions. We do not understand how something came from nothing, how life leapt from dead chemicals. All I can say in response to that is to admit our limitations and repent of posturing as a peer of superior to the Almighty. 

That repentance should not lead us to throw up our hands and give up on investigation or even to view our lives fatalistically. The mysteries of God should lead us to worship and prayer. Consider the Eastern Orthodox church who has infused the idea of divine mystery into their worship. Paul, who the Orthodox church venerates in the same way the Roman Catholic church venerates Peter, described the gospel and work of Christ as a mystery or secret over thirty times. For this reason, the Orthodox Church does not practice "sacraments," they practice the Holy Mysteries.

The visible works of the church are incarnations of the mysteries of God on earth and accomplish his holy purposes. The entire Christian life is seen as a single, holy mystery. They fully recognize that they cannot know God’s macro purposes or organization. Heck, they rightly acknowledge that we can’t understand the Incarnation or the inner machinations of justification. They readily admit life is mysterious, and that causes them to rely on God more intimately, worshiping him in his understandable and incomprehensible ways and humbly accept their own limitations.

We will never understand God’s macro purposes, but we know his micro call on our personal lives. We know what we must do and that we should seek him in prayer when we don’t. The mystery of God forces us to admit that we are not gods. We are humble recipients of grace. I don’t know how that works or why God chose to save me, and I’m okay with that.

Drew Fitzgerald
After graduating from Dallas Theological Seminary, Drew moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas, to help plant The Hill Church where he still serves as an elder. He has a habit of collecting hobbies and mastering none of them. The only real thing he has mastered is eating ice cream, which really isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Cover image by René Reichelt.

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