In the Experiencing God mesage, I tried to make a strong case that the Christian life is at its deepest essence, the Experience of God. And unfortunately, since friendship with the invisible God is difficult, we have settled for focusing on other things.
We have focused on developing extensive belief systems (Christianity as a belief system).
We have focused on morality (Christianity as a moral code).
We have foucsed on Christian living (Christianity as a religious system and/or pragmatic living).
Now, none of those three things are wrong. But,they become wrong when they keep us from what is MOST IMPORTANT and that is Christianity as the encounter with and experience of God. If you get the three things above, but miss the Experiencing God part, those things do not last.
So, I ended Sunday's message with words from Karl Rahner which Breannan Manning used in his book, Rithless Trust.
Rahner's prediction from about 50 years ago is proving itself accurate. We are living in the age of post-Christendom, when cultural Christianity has all but disappeared, except in the bastions of Bible belt faith.
We are finding that if one's Christianity is mainly a belief system (rationalism) or if it is mainly morality (behaviorism) or if it is mainly practical ways of living (pragmatism), that faith does not endure and people drop out of church and the faith.
Rahner is right when he says that in the end we must become mystics... that is, those who experience God. Without the experience of God - belief, behaviors, practices are all like dull, drab, dreary grays that lose their appeal. But with the experience of God, they become brilliant with hues of beautiful color. Without the experience of God - belief, behaviors and practices are like a monotonous monotone. But with the experience of God, they become delightful with ringing melody, harmony and rhythms.
The Christian life is the Experience of God in friendship, love and missional service. It is what we were made for. It is the deepest longing of the heart. It is what we must pursue and discover.
The insight from Ignatius was that this can be pursued in the routines of ordinary life. We are able to find God in all things Rahner used the language of "ordinary mystics" to describe the ordinary, average person who finds God in all the daily routines of life.
What a great idea and what a beautiful way to live.
So, here is to that journey into the Experience of God. Here is to you and I becoming ordinary mystics. May you have the joy of finding strong companions with which to make that journey.
Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International