It’s another reason why I love reading Eugene Peterson…
Having finished my Lewis papers and Regent reading, I’ve returned to a book by Eugene Peterson which I received as a Christmas gift last year from Mom and Dad. It’s called Practicing Resurrection, the fifth and final book in Peterson’s series on Spiritual Theology. If you’ve ever been to our Tuesday night hangouts with our Young Adults group, you’ll have probably heard me mention Eugene before. He’s an incredibly down to earth man, and as a writer he’s entertaining, humorous and deep.
Here’s a snippet from Practicing Resurrection on the mystery:
Verb six: God made known. “With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will” (Eph. 1:8-9).
We are not in the dark. We are in on what God des. We are not intended to be kept in a state of ignorance, asking no questions. We are not children “to be seen and not heard.”
But—and this catches our attention—what God makes known to us is “the mystery of his will.” … ‘Mystery’ here does not refer to things kept in secret, classified information that is not accessible to people without proper clearance. ‘Mystery’ here refers to something more like the inside story of the way God does things that bring us into the story. This is a kind of knowledge that cannot be gained by gathering up information or picking up clues. …The way in which God makes known the mystery is ‘with all wisdom and insight.’ That is, the knowledge that God gives us comes in the form of wisdom and insight. God does not dump information on us. He does not ‘home school’ us in mathematics and biology. ‘Wisdom and insight’ are knowledge lived out.
We have far too little experience of this in American [and, I would add, Canadian] schools. Education majors in dates and figures, explanation and definitions, how things work… None of this is without usefulness. But it has little to do with becoming a mature person, with growing up. We know a thing, a truth, a person only in relationship. There is a great deal of impersonal knowledge available. There is no impersonal wisdom.
We truly know something only by entering it, knowing from the inside, lovingly embracing it. That is what wisdom is: truth assimilated and digested (Peterson, Practice Resurrection, 64-65).
Sometimes I think we make matters of faith and God so abstract—so unrelated to everyday life. Yet Eugene helps us to keep it grounded in everyday language: in fact, the most ordinary language there is—that of relationships, family, real people, real life, real God.
Eugene Peterson. Practice Resurrection: a conversation in growing up in Christ. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2010.