Brennan Manning once wrote,
“Mystery is spoiled by a word.” 1
Father Brennan was speaking of the daunting task of trying to use our human adjectives to try to describe the love of God the Father. On a smaller scale, I can think of how true this quote is when my frustration and anxiety level rise as I begin to run out of Hallmark card options to give my wife on a special occasion to express my love and appreciation. How is it captured in the generic language of one who hasn’t shared our experience, intimacy, and unique journey together?
Last night at Pastor’s Class at Shalimar United Methodist Church we continued teaching through the Gospel of John by looking at the seven “I AM” sayings of Jesus. Seven times in John’s Gospel Jesus says, “I am . . .” fill in the blank. Each metaphor He uses tells us something new about who He is and what God is doing and offering the world through Jesus Christ. In case we missed the significance of this message for the Jewish faith and history, in John 8:58 Jesus makes this most blasphemous claim: “I assure you, before Abraham was, I Am.” There is no fill in the blank. Just “I Am.” He is echoing back to the conversation God had with Moses in Exodus 3:13-14.
I have come to appreciate and even experience the mystical side of the Christian faith that has been passed down from our ancient fathers and mothers to modern contemplatives. Is God mysterious? He is the deepest mystery! It’s wonderful. And yet, He is also the God who chose to make “the Word become flesh” (John 1:14). Along with mystery, we find in the God of Jesus revelation. He is the God who makes Himself known. He wants to be known. By you. Today.
1 Manning, Brennan. Abba’s Child. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2015; p.xvii