mystic pizzaThere have been people throughout the ages of the Church who have experienced God in unique ways.  Often times, these people have been ostracized for their expressions of faith and their extreme encounters with the Divine. They allow themselves to be confronted by the Almighty and they devote their lives to his service.  There is intensity about their interaction with God that is difficult to articulate at times and can be intimidating for those who are uncomfortable or inexperienced with these exceptional experiences. Some people saw visions, some were ascetics in the desert, and some even are reported to experience the wounds of Christ or were able to levitate. These people are called “mystics.”
The word “mystical” might conjure up many ideas or feelings when it comes to mind.  Perhaps you think of crystals and unicorns.  Maybe the word has negative connotations for you. It is true that mystics throughout history have been met with reservation and sometimes fear.  Often that fear led to many mystics dying for their passion for God that was interpreted as heresy.  What was it that caused so much fear and caution from the leaders of the Church?
The word “mystic” comes from the Greek word for “to conceal” or “to hide.” This is where the English word “mystery” comes from. In the Church’s history the word was ascribed to the Church’s interactions with God through the reading of the Scripture, participation in liturgy and ritual, and direct interaction with the Divine. The term Mysticism really is a description of human beings communing with God.
If you really think about it, it is crazy that humans claim to interact with God.  It is an irrational idea to believe God became a human being so that he could dwell with us, know us, and save us by dying.  It is nuts that we claim to converse with him and even eat his body and drink his blood. We actually think that the God of the universe divinely inspired man to write down a bunch of stories, genealogies, laws, and letters and somehow he speak to us and guides us through these writings. Christianity is a strange religion.
The truth of the matter is though; we totally believe this stuff. This “stuff” is not just “stuff;” it is the truth. Most of us would even say that we have had supernatural experiences with the Divine. We’ve heard God speak to us when we read our Bibles.  God has perhaps healed you or someone you know. You know that your life has been saved from death by the blood of Jesus Christ.  We have all had mystical experiences.  Christianity is a mystical religion.
Of course there is much more to mysticism than them simply being a group of people who interact with God.  There are times when we should truly be cautious about the claims of people who profess to speak with God or are having unique experiences.  In all things we should humbly seek counsel from the Word, our elders, and pray.  However, perhaps today we should let go of some of our fear and simply enter into communion with God.  We already accept a lot of crazy tenants of faith so why not let go a little and let the Holy Spirit really speak to you? Should we really be afraid of hearing from such a loving Father and Creator?
By: Courtney Rose, Salvation Army Soldier from the Salvation Army Mayfair Community Church in Chicago and Adjunct Professor at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, IL.