Are they on the menu at your church?
Definition from Merriam-Webster dictionary:Mysticism: a religious practice based on the belief that knowledge of spiritual truth can be gained by praying or thinking deeply.
: the experience of mystical union or direct communion with ultimate reality reported by mystics
: the belief that direct knowledge of God, spiritual truth, or ultimate reality can be attained through subjective experience (as intuition or insight)
a : vague speculation : a belief without sound basis
b : a theory postulating the possibility of direct and intuitive acquisition of ineffable knowledge or power
Any of us seeking God can relate to this definition on some level, whether or not the term is part of our comfortable vocabulary. Even Christians who don’t spend a great deal of time praying are likely to offer up some positive thoughts toward God. Contemplation and meditation are encouraged in our churches. Hopefully, those processes are not simply flights of free thinking, but are directed by Scripture. For knowledge of spiritual truth comes only from one source. While true and complete nourishment from the Word might be the underlying goal, too often we’re satisfied when somebody throws us a mystic biscuit.
The mystical exercise can attach enlightenment to any source. Religious experimentation involves the desire, whether organic or instructed, to find God and make an emotional connection. What it doesn’t represent is the reality of becoming knowledgeable of who God is and of what He has chosen to reveal to us.
Knowledge can come from experience, but it’s not in itself an experience. It’s a possession, gained not by a mystic chasing after God, but by the truth of the Word of God. This is not to say a knowledgeable Christian doesn’t desire that “feel good” moment in God’s presence. It’s not a criticism of worship, but an encouragement to base desire and worship on truth, and not on experience.
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. Colossians 2:8
Why is the sound knowledge of God that comes from Scripture placed so high above the willful expression of our need to know Him? Is our effort worth nothing? Can we not experience the glory of God by giving something of ourselves? We may find a measure of what God intends us to perceive, but it won’t change us into who He intends us to become.
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17
We are not permanently altered, spiritually transformed, or saved for eternity by our experiences. Only by the truth of the Word is true knowledge of God known. The empty promise of this world is the lesser valued, experiential treatment of God as a prize to be obtained by our own speculation.
But this practice certainly isn’t widespread in evangelical churches. Is it? The mystic biscuits might slip in, appealing to our need to be fed. To be filled instantly. To be mesmerized. To be entertained. Perhaps it’s our consumerism mentality which adopts the mystic show invading some churches. It doesn’t necessarily mean our intention is to seek something other than truth, or to be satisfied with anything besides God. But we might think we’ve realized truth—assumed we’ve reached God—when all we’ve really done is employ a flimsy practice to launch ourselves into a state of spiritual euphoria. That’s nothing beyond the digestion of a mystic biscuit. And it’s not what we need to survive. Scripture doesn’t teach that God’s people perish from a lack of mystic experience, but from a lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).