When we refer to someone as unreasonable we are basically saying that they are acting, speaking, or thinking in such a way that defies logical understanding or practical wisdom. And as we know there are unreasonable people everywhere; the interstate is literally teaming with them. And while I am a fan of wisdom and wholeheartedly support the practice of learning and growing until the day of our final breath, I am also increasingly confronted with the Bible’s repeatedly implied lesson to leave room for acceptance without understanding; and even acceptance without logical basis or practical foundation.
I read this morning in Eugene Peterson’s book “Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places” a poem that Peterson references by Madeleine L’Engle. In this poem, “After Annunciation”, she beautifully describes the idea that I introduced above, the idea that Christianity is a faith that leaves room for, and even relishes in, the inexplicable and unreasonable mysteries that shroud the being and work of God. Speaking of Mary the mother of Jesus, L’Engle weaves this:
This is the irrational season
When love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason
There’d have been no room for the child.
– Madeleine L’Engle
I believe that where we can make sense of things we should. We ought to never grow lazy and disconnected from the investigations that spiritual truth leads us to, but we also must be willing to leave room for revelation without understanding – for these are the ingredients of wonder and amazement. Christianity will never be the system of belief that can be fully explained, and therein lies its remarkable novelty. I don’t think I’m alone in admitting that there have been plenty of times over the course of my Christian life when I’ve caught myself asking God to help me sytematically understand some miraculous or supernatural passage, practice, or principle; and I will likely ask again in the future. But at some point the very thing that continues to bring freshness to my relationship with God is the very mystery that I pray to extinguish with facts and information and formulas. It is evidence of God’s grace in my life that, instead of answering those prayer requests for formulas or equations, He has instead left me with a heart brim-filled with joy in light of a truth that is far better experienced than explained.
Perhaps if we as Christians stopped falling prey to the old habit of having to grasp things prior to believing them (or more importantly letting them incite worship in us) we would find that we are not stupider or less informed, but more insightful in the things that can be understood and more moved by the things that cannot. Of course there is the argument that if we just accept everything we run the risk of falling into error, and this is a valid argument. But the assumption should not be made that a “dry” or perfectly manageable faith is better than one that embraces too much and is too loose. Both are equally dangerous.