The Mystery of Trust: A Bible Study for Asbury's Worship
(September 12 & 13)
by Rev. Lee Johnson
september 12, 2020
Over the years of my ministry (35 plus), countless times with countless families, I have stood at gravesides and read words first written by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15: “Listen, I will tell you a mystery. We will not all die, but we will be changed. For a perishable body must put on imperishability, and a mortal body must put on immortality.” It is only then, Paul says, “that the saying is fulfilled, death is swallowed up in victory.” That’s it. Our lives of faith are about trusting a mystery, we are to embrace a mystery that for Christians was embodied by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are to proclaim the “mystery of our faith,” and not just at a graveside, but throughout life, from our first to our last breath. Of course, much effort has been spent to define this mystery, see the history of Christian orthodoxy, as though a mystery can be reduced to a set of right beliefs. I am pretty sure I could not have articulated this 30 some years ago. I was too busy articulating the right orthodoxy so I could be ordained. Looking back, though, I can see much of my ministry has been about becoming friends with this mystery and helping others do the same. What mystery do you experience in your Christian faith, those moments that are often defined by questions? Is it possible to trust a mystery?
Much of what Peter Enns writes about in The Sin of Certainty involves mystery and trust. The fact - now that sounds like orthodoxy - that our faith is a mystery, says Enns, does not free us from pursuit, intellectually and spiritually, of the mystery. Instead, we are to live into, to move into, to study and contemplate the mystery, in hope we can trust the mystery and its promises as revealed by Jesus, all the more. Enns believes there are life moments when the mystery is at work leading us to trust God. “Call the mystery Spirit,” says Enns, but the mystery is as at work to move believers more fully into a trusting relationship with God. Several years ago, when working as Director of Admissions for Saint Paul School of Theology, I had an experience with the mystery, which in retrospect helped move me back to ministry in the local church. The whole thing was rather unorthodox. I was tempted to call it coincidental. Yet, I am not certain “coincidental” leads us further into trust. What do you think? Have you ever had one of those God moments that led you further into a trusting relationship with God? If so, have you told others about it?
So, this weekend in worship at Asbury, you are going to hear stories from two laypersons who, I believe, have done great things in life: they have leaned into the mystery and trusted God. Peter Enns says, “Trusting God isn’t simply something to do in crisis, but in all your ways, even when you think you have it all figured out.” After all, trusting on our own “I’ve got it figured out insight” is a step back from leaning in, and that’s a step back from trust. Hmmm. I guess orthodoxy can distract from faith. So, this weekend, listen to the stories of Dan and Erin, then listen to your own story. Invite the mystery in and lean into it. Have you ever had a moment in life when you thought you had it all figured out? What happened? This year has revealed the fragility of certainty - as in, "I was certain something like “this” could never happen." Where, in your experience of 2020, have you leaned into the mystery and trust?
1 Corinthians 15:50-57.
Asbury's Weekend Worship: https://www.visitasbury.org/worship/
Beginning Saturday, September 12 at 5:00 pm
"Lead me, God, to lean into your mystery of trust."