“… there are times when certainty and mystery are inseparably linked. In fact, the place where certainty and mystery meet is where we encounter God.”
There is something very appealing about certainty. It evokes thoughts and feelings of comfort and peace. To be sure of one’s income, physical security or of the love of another person are things that most of us value.
Of course, there is not a lot we can truly be certain of. Economies and jobs fluctuate, our own health or the health of someone we love can change quickly, relationships transition, and societal shifts occur. That’s why we’re told that the only things we can be certain of in life are death and taxes.
How we handle uncertainty varies from person to person. Some people try to insulate themselves from what they fear by living in a protective bubble. Others seek certainty by crafting answers that bring them comfort but which, in reality, are less than trustworthy. They pompously major on the obvious while ignoring the subtle or hidden nuances of a matter. To thoughtfully ponder and wrestle with the mysteries inherent in a life of faith is too demanding for some people.
Be assured, I like certainty. And I admit that in my search for truth and a firm ground to stand on, I have at times opted for easy answers. But I have come to accept that there are times when certainty and mystery are inseparably linked. In fact, the place where certainty and mystery meet is where we encounter God.
The very idea that we are living in relationship with an almighty God guarantees that mystery will be part of our lives. The mystery that results from such a relationship should not be feared or avoided. It is very often in the act of probing the mysteries of God that we experience worship and awe. The words adventure and wonder come to my mind. It will take me a lifetime plus eternity to grasp God’s infinite love, grace, truth, justice and power. That makes this life a journey of wonder, adventure and discovery. My task is to be a humble learner, a disciple.
As I sit here pondering the mysteries of life and faith, there are, however, a number of things of which I am certain. These certainties spring from what God openly reveals to us in His Word.
Most important, we can know for certain that God chose to reveal Himself, and His plan for the redemption of His creation, in the person of Jesus Christ.
“In him [Jesus Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ” (Ephesians 1:7-10).
There is certainty about Jesus, His gospel, and the transformation He brings. Luke recognized this as he compiled his account of Jesus and the impact of the early church.
“Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:3,4).
Paul describes this certainty when he speaks of fulfilling his call to ministry.
“And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.
“What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:11-13).
The certainty of the gospel of Jesus Christ—His life, death, physical resurrection and ongoing reign—marked Paul and his peers so profoundly that they were prepared to die for their faith. They called on people everywhere to experience the certainty of this gospel and be transformed by it.
The mystery of living in relationship with the Almighty God invokes awe and worship. The certainty of our relationship with God in Jesus Christ invokes awe and worship. Certainty and mystery kiss at the intersection of our lives and God’s love.
May we never lose the wonder.
Our gracious Father, we thank You for the mystery of our relationship with You. And we thank You that our relationship with You is built on the certainty of the gospel of Jesus Christ and deepened through the ongoing work of Your Holy Spirit. With awe and worship we pray. Amen.
This article appeared in the January/February 2017 issue of testimony,
the bimonthly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada