The Mystery Is Great

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by Ryan Shrauner

Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great:

He was revealed in flesh,
vindicated in spirit,
seen by angels,

proclaimed among Gentiles,
believed in throughout the world,
taken up in glory.

(The First Letter of Paul to Timothy 3:16)

I would do my best to get to our small language school early every morning, not to beat the summer heat, but to get the first crack at the internet and look up yesterday’s baseball scores. Eventually I ran into two of my instructors one morning and had a dreaded, but inevitable conversation:  to try and explain baseball in Castilian Spanish to skeptics who had never actually seen a game. Not the finer points or some of the more obscure rules, but just the basics:  how the game is played. Many sports are fundamentally easy to describe (soccer [fútbol], basketball, any kind of racing) and even golf and [American] football can be explained essentially in a sentence or two. But without any doubt, the mystery of the diamond is great.

Sadly, explaining how baseball is played to bewildered Europeans is still largely preferable than trying to explain the mystery of the Christian faith to most of my fellow Americans. Most people I encounter at home, whether they identify themselves within the church or without it, seem to gravitate toward two equal and opposite mistakes:  a rather stern and sterile elimination of any and all mystery in the conception of the life and work of Jesus Christ or a lusty and whole-hearted insistence on mystery that flirts heavily with some sort of agnosticism (and indeed seems to take it home for a nightcap on a regular basis).

How brilliant to include a portion of a hymn to review the mystery and reinforce a young church; perhaps we should not neglect this example.

Find a 3” x 5” card or cocktail napkin or start a text message or find some other constrained blank space and compose the mystery of our religion with concision. Most of us may never have occasion to explain our faith in cramped quarters, but it might be nice to know we could make that pitch if called upon.

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