I am so excited about this journey we are on! It’s rich, rich, rich! What should the church be today? What Jesus was then! (Of course.) And Jesus showed us a God who was focused on the Tables in people’s homes so he could create Temples in their hearts!
“…and he said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at your house.” (Luke 19:5b)
(Verse 7) “And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.”
For the first 200 years the church remained focused on Table more than Temple, and then a certain Roman Emperor came to power (Constantine), and things began changing back towards Temple. Slowly the church was seduced back to fancy Temples and ceremonies, leaving Tables like Zacchaeus’s outside the four walls of a man made structure. (We will look at this in more detail, but for now, this is the basic insight we need.)
As I considered the challenge of teaching about Christian Mysticism, it seemed to go hand in hand with church history. Indeed, it does not seem possible, (in my opinion), to understand a Christian Mystic without understanding the difference between Temple and Table. You see, Jesus showed us the true heart of God. A closeness represented by a Table, not a Temple. And this is also the heart of a true Mystic, this hard to explain closeness to God we can all have, if we desire Him enough.
After reading some material of Robert Nowell, I determined this to be a good place to start with our understanding of a Christian Mystic. For he says, what the Mystic is trying to describe is “what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived” ( I Cor. 2:9); he is trying to tell of “things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.” (II Cor. 12:4). To this I add, we need such people! May we all desire to be such people.
He goes on to make the point that if it cannot be put to words and understood, if it is basically beyond explaining and understanding, then does it have any value in attempting to communicate? (Good question.) He goes on to say it is well to understand that other modes of discourse beyond the purely “scientific” have their own validity; to which he speaks of “music” as an example. Music can stand as a type or example of mystical utterance, something that is undoubtedly meaningful and significant while at the same time resisting translation into the verbal language of every day life.
We have all experienced what it is like to have a song, a piece of music, affect us in unexplainable, perhaps mystic ways very hard to put to words, even impossible, and yet the effect is there, it is real, and it has value. Herein perhaps lies our challenge with understanding the Mystics of our church history. Perhaps we only catch a glimpse of what they are saying, but it is a glimpse well worth catching. It affects us in a good way. Even as the focus of Christianity is the promise of the future, but it is a future we cannot yet fully perceive. Even as we speak of God, a Being we cannot yet fully comprehend. It is not unusual for this to be part of the challenge of all things spiritual.
Here’s my last point on this mystical journey for today. The father of our faith, Abraham, was told of God to go and live in a land he did not yet possess, and yet by the command and decree of God, owner of all creation, he did now possess, because God said so. Only problem was, the Amorites and so on, did not know about this new arrangement. But by faith and obedience Abraham entered and was already enjoying the land of fat grapes and milk and honey even before he could actually prove his ownership. In other words, he brought God’s future to his present, and was enjoying his future in his NOW! This is mystical in concept, yet Abraham lived in it like the bumble bee flies because I guess he doesn’t know he can’t! (LOL). (Sorry, couldn’t help myself.)
In many ways Christianity deals in things one could say “is not yet”. But the Mystic is someone for whom the “not yet” has momentarily at least become the “here and now”. I know this may be bending your brain like Morpheus and Neo, but it’s true. This is also what I refer to as “Living in the 7th Day” (L7D).
Hebrews 11 says Abraham did it by faith, and he looked for a Temple not made with hands but whose builder and maker was God! Here we are back to a Temple of people’s heart, not brick and mortar. The Pharisee’s hearts had become brick and mortar just like their Temples. This is a mistake we do not want to be.
We can see time periods in church history when innocent people were burned at stakes, or their property seized in heartless and cruel ways hard to explain by people professing to be followers of Jesus. Their hearts had become brick and mortar. The Mystic loves the Lord’s Table of fellowship not in a pompous way, but in a way like unto the upper room that night with his disciples. A Table of friendship, family, love, self sacrificing, and personable.
Jesus had such a Table with Zacchaeus and it totally changed him into a new creation. Old things passed away. The heart of stone became the heart of God. God took possession. God tells His people, I am your possession, not the things of this world. In me you possess all things. If you believe these things, if you are drawn to this kind of thing, then there is a Mystic in you just waiting to grow. This is why here at “Path Without End”, we are pursuing these things. I left the modern church asking where is the God of Elijah? That question seems to have led to here, as we continue to explore and learn.
Yes, that is a sword you see there, and that is an area known as “White Butte” in the background.