“To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda, not even in stirring people up, but in being a living mystery. It means to live in such as way that one’s life would not make sense if God did not exist.” – Cardinal Suhard
Oh, this idea cuts me to the quick. Because I don’t think I am living in such a way – not truly?! These were my thoughts when I first came across this quote in Madeleine L’Engle’s book, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art. But it also brought to mind the sermon text from last Sunday:
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
In my previous blog post I shared how I only underlined part of a verse and left out the part where it is Jesus who intercedes for us. This led me to the realization that when reading Acts 1:8 I often focus on the last part of the verse about being a witness and forget about the first part which states that it is only through the power of the Holy Spirit I am able to do so at all! This is what will allow me to live in such as way that people will understand it has to be God working in and through me.
Can I be such a witness, such “A Living Mystery?”
Colossians 1:27 says, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” The idea of mystery comes up again in this verse, along with the concept that it comes from a power outside of us. And the next few verses in Colossians 1:28-29 state, “He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”
Who or what does my everyday life proclaim? Is it Jesus? Or is it myself, my cause, or my agenda? Do I work hard to proclaim Christ, all the while realizing I can only do so with the capacity He gives me? Am I a witness to others that embodies the living mystery of “Christ in me”?
Now being that kind of witness is something to strive towards! But again it is only under the Holy Spirit’s influence and Christ’s power that such a life is even possible. Yet I often try to live as if it is possible to do so on my own. But what “mystery” is there in that? To slog through life in survival mode, the same as anybody else. To be hurt and confused and overwhelmed and burdened down and just trying to get by. This kind of life is all too common and therefore not much of a mystery to anyone.
Instead, “… let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross …” (Hebrews 12:1-2). As believers in Christ, we can live with JOY because Jesus modeled this for us and blazed a path for us to follow. To live with JOY in spite of our suffering or perhaps in the midst of our suffering. To live with JOY in such a way that our lives don’t make sense any other way than to point to Jesus as our strength. To live like this would truly be living out a mystery!