We want methods, but we need mystery

I was reading The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis to my 7-year-old boy. This is my 4th time through the Narnia books. I find so many profound truths littered through Lewis’ brilliant series. The one that struck me last night was from the end of the book. The kids return from many adventures in Narnia and they went to the Professor to tell him why four coats were missing. He believed them because he too had been to Narnia. The Professor told them something quite profound, he said:

You wont get into Narnia again by that route. Nor would the coats be much use by now if you did! Eh? What’s That? Ye, of course you’ll get back to Narnia again someday. Once a King in Narnia, always a King in Narnia. But don’t go trying to use the same route twice. Indeed, don’t try to get there at all. It’ll happen when you are not looking for it.

In the Chronicles of Narnia it’s clear that Lewis is going out of his way to make some theological truths accessible but I also think Lewis’ worldview seeped out into Narnia. Not to over analyze the text but I believe Lewis was on to something with this statement “Don’t go trying to use the same route twice.” Lewis understood something that was true about his day that I believe is even more dangerous today. That danger is the danger of turning to methods rather than living in the unsafe world of mystery.

When we figure something out we write it down and replicate it. For many things this works well and should be done. A repetitive task where the outcome is a process it’s helpful. When people are involved it gets a bit more messy. When it involves faith it can become downright dangerous.

If we can reduce our faith to a method. We remove mystery we no longer need God’s help. If we can turn discipleship into a process that churns out disciples we have minions who do our bidding not disciples who have embraced mystery.

You want to grow in your faith? Ask why more than how. When you attend a conference ask to change you rather than look for a process to rescue you. When you have success understand that it isn’t your process alone that caused that success but it is the mysterious fruit of a branch that’s connected to a life-giving vine.

John 15:4,5
4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

We try to systematize our faith. I am a huge proponent of theological systems but if we think the methods of our faith will save us rather than the mysterious object of our faith we as pastors and parents will never pass our faith to our kids. We must give our kids a mysterious God we treasure rather than a method of worship we adhere to. Mystery must always master methods.