Embracing Mystery and Awe

[1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] He was in the beginning with God. [3] All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. [4] In him was life, and the life was the light of men. [5] The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.(John 1:1-5)

Embracing mystery and awe can help keep us from idolatry. 

As for idolatry, consider society’s obsession with science. As one who has greatly benefited from medical science, I’m not against science itself. I’m against society’s push to trust in science, instead of trusting in God, for our future. One side effect of turning to science is a loss of mystery and awe. If we can explain everything in the universe there will be little room for wonder. 

John chapter one is a great example of mystery. John could have started his Gospel saying, “Jesus was born in Bethlehem.” Instead, John refers to Jesus as “the Word”. Why did John choose to use “The Word”? John could have any one of a dozen better known Biblical names or titles of Jesus. 

John explains why he refers to Jesus as “the Word.” In verse 2 John writes all things were created through “the Word” and nothing was created without him. Since God spoke all things into existence, we see the tie in with “the Word.” (Genesis chapter 1). 

We understand this is about Jesus, but do we really fully comprehend it? No, our finite minds cannot fully grasp the divine. This is good. God has not only created us with the ability to experience mystery and awe, but there is a purpose behind these traits. 

Our fallen human nature drives us to try to save ourselves. That’s one reason our society is so committed to science. Society’s hope is that science will one day save not just the human race, but the world. Certainly, there are vocations that reduce human suffering and conserve the environment. But this is different than placing our trust in science, verses having faith in God. As Hebrews chapters 1 and 2 so clearly state, God is both the creator and sustainer of this universe. 

This is why awe and wonder are important. These emotions remind us that we don’t have to know every secret of the universe. Instead, we trust that God is control. With this confidence, we are free to marvel at God’s creation. 

(A Second Look devotions are written for the congregations of the Ohio District LCMS.)

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