In his book Mystical Union, John Crowder writes that there is a new mysticism on the rise, one coupled with a new reformation.
Identifying himself as a “reformed mystic,” Crowder argues that the mystics need the reformers’ faith, while reformers shouldn’t reject the mystics’ experience.
The mystery of Christ
Some folk get antsy over talk about spiritual experiences, especially mystical ones. Indeed, the word mystical has been hijacked by all sorts of airy-fairy, new agey, occultic groups. But the word itself is Christian in origin.
The term mystic was originally used to describe a believer who experienced an interactive life with Christ characterized by intimacy and supernatural power. Paul wrote much about the mysteries of God which, in a word, are simply Christ. His concern was that we would “become progressively more intimately acquainted with and may know more definitely and accurately and thoroughly that mystic secret of God, [which is] Christ (the Anointed One)” (Col 2:2, AMP).
Do you have a problem becoming more intimately acquainted with Christ? Then neither do you have a problem with mystical experience.
The mystical union of which Crowder writes is simply the revelation that we are in Him and He is in us. This union was made possible through the cross. We did nothing to make it happen. We are merely the happy beneficiaries of His divine favor:
The abundant blessings of this union are far too many to account. Physical healing. Financial provision. Reconciliation in relationships. Emotional fulfillment. Unspeakable joy. Righteous authority to be wielded over regions and people groups. Creative miraculous abilities. Mystical powers. Authority in this age and the age to come. The possibilities are endless, as you are wed to God. Loc. 3498
Crowder takes care to point out that we don’t pursue spiritual experiences as a means of drawing closer to the Lord. Rather, we have these experiences because we are already united with Him. They are simply a consequence of effortless union. Peter and Paul never went looking for trances; they both “fell” into them. When you are living and breathing the mystery of God, namely Christ, mystical stuff just happens.
The flavor of faith
I would like to think that I am open to anything and everything God wants to do, but I have, at times, been distracted by the monkish seriousness or the drunken ecstasy of those who are more experiential than me.
Mystical experiences are certainly valid – they’re in the Bible – but I have sometimes felt that they are forced upon people, as in: “If you are not manifesting these experiences, then you’re not mature/pressing in/encountering the fullness blah blah blah.” Peer pressure is alive and well in some circles. And, if I’m brutally honest, I have probably pushed others whose comfort zones were smaller than mine.
But love doesn’t force itself on anyone. The flavor of faith is rest. Crowder understands this:
I’m not pressing in anymore. I’ve been pressed into. I’m not contending anymore. I’ve been contended for. I’m not a God chaser anymore. I’ve been chased down, roped, hogtied, bagged and dragged. I’m not appropriating what I have. It’s mine. I’m not getting closer to God. He’s like a Siamese twin. I’m not even seeking God anymore. He found me. Loc.2130
Mystical Union is an eclectic book full of rabbit trails all infused with grace.