June 14, 2021

What is a Christian Mystic?

You probably came here with some ideas about what those two words mean. Then, if you search, Google will send you into all kinds of scary rabbit holes. So before it gets crazy, this is how I define a Christian Mystic….

First, some ‘official’ definitions . . .

A Christian professes belief in Jesus. Most Christians would define other Christians as those who are “born again.” This means someone who believes by faith that Jesus died for us on the cross and his loving sacrifice bridged the gap for us to be reconciled to God. It means that person believes Jesus loved us first, died for us, and atoned for our sins. By only accepting and receiving the gift of his love and grace, not by any works or striving or upon our own merit, we may be in communion (intimate fellowship) with him. The symbol of this relationship is eating with him, being at the table with him, and breaking bread with him. This is why we partake in the sacrament of communion, to celebrate that we have received the gift of grace offered to us by the Lord, to remember that he was consecrated so that we could be sanctified, and to set our hearts once again to say yes to an intimate relationship, communion, unity with the Lord.

When we accept Jesus, we entered into a relationship that transforms us from the inside out. Love transforms. Jesus’ prayer (John 17) was for us to know God’s love, for his love to be in us, and for us to be one. He asked for the world to come to know God through this communion of love that would make us “perfectly one.”

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Jesus’ prayer in John 17:20-26

A Mystic, by definition, is “a person who seeks by contemplation (private devotion) and self-surrender to obtain unity” with God and/or “who believes in the spiritual understanding of truths that are beyond the intellect.” (according to Lexico on May 26, 2021) If you agree with Jesus’ prayer in John 17, (above) then you believe we are able to be one with God through the act of prayer.

The so-called “sinners prayer,” is asking to receive the gift of grace and asking Jesus to be Lord of your life (which most “born again” Christians do.) It is an act of private devotion and self-surrender to God. Purely by definition, you took part in something mystic. Asking for Jesus and the Holy Spirit to come live inside you, is an act of devotion with the purpose of obtaining unity with God. If you were ever taught something different, that teacher was not Spirit-filled.

Christians, through this unity, are both in the process of being sanctified and also, instantly upon receiving his free gift of grace, transformed. The old man, our flesh, was crucified with Christ on the cross, and we were reborn of the Spirit, to be the dwelling place and living temple where Christ may live in us and through us. At that moment, we yoked and united ourselves to the Lord. Just as two become one in marriage, we became one with Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Father.

“We impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him” —these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit  searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who s from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.”

1 Corinthians 2:7-13

Therefore, all (sincere) Christians
are truly mystics.

In many different seasons of life, I have studied the true Christian mystics, the desert fathers and mothers of old, who spent their lives in contemplation and solitude to seek intimate friendship with God. The classic Christian mystics (such as Teresa of Ávila, St. John of the Cross, Bernard of Clairvaux, and many others) wrote about their contemplative relationship with God in ways that transcend time. They chose God over all other things and wrote about the vulnerability and struggle and bliss of wrapping their human brain around the ineffable love of God.

Christian Mystics
Spirit-led, Wholehearted, Kindred Friends of God

I have said that the word Christian needs to be redeemed and that many people who claim to be Christian have given Christians a bad reputation. Here I will say, the word mystic, is just as misunderstood, if not more so. Many people who practice different kinds of mysticism have hijacked the word mystic to mean new age spiritualism (or worse).

In truth, there are wholehearted, intentional, and deeply sincere “Christian Mystics” who are committed to loving the Lord with their whole heart, mind, soul, and strength, and who experience communion with God through contemplation and self-surrender. These ones experience unity with the lover of their soul. These kinds of Christians give me hope. 💛

Friends of God go all in.

I like using the word mystic as a postscript to the word Christian because it hints at this unity and friendship. Mystic points at my belief that everything is spiritual. To say I’m Christian will invoke all kinds of definitions and biases the listener has known about Christians, but when I add mystic, it makes note that there’s something different. My faith is partnered with wholehearted surrender to a God who is bigger than myself, and wholehearted pursuit to be more like him and know his love. Jesus influences every part of my life.

To experience God in a way that transforms you into his likeness is what makes you a mystic. How he leads you is personal. How you experience him, hear his voice, or feel convicted is different for every person. God speaks in a unique way to us all.

To be a friend of God is a beautiful, sacred mystery.
But it should not be rare.
It should be common among
all Christians.

Friendship with God (aka unity, communion, and experiencing his love and guidance) is not a special gift set aside for a select few. Many are called, but often, only a select few say yes to his invitation. Only a remnant of people fully embrace God’s love and go all-in by offering their lives to him as a living sacrifice. Step one is the prayer, but your will and heart can only be given step-by-step through wholehearted love. To offer God your loving devotion is a gift freely given. Our love is the only thing we have to offer the God of all creation. He owns everything else!

Christian Mystics have said yes to being a friend of God. They choose daily to live by the Spirit. They have tuned their ears to hear the voice of their dearest friend. They commit to intentionally pursue communion with the Lord and invite him into every area of their lives. There is no place they refuse God’s leadership. They go all in.

Will you go all in?

💛 Alena