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The Mystery of Faith: A Brief Reflection for Thanksgiving

November 25th, 2009 | 1 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

As Christians, we are a people who live in a present that is shaped definitively by the past and the future. The meaning of our present, of our contemporary lives and relationships, is fixed, but not yet revealed. We take shape only in relationship to the eternal, which Boethius famously defined as the “simultaneously whole and perfect possession of everlasting life.”

But this “everlasting life” that structures our lives’ meaning is not an abstract formula, but a concrete reality that took shape–and will take shape–in the historical presence of the man Jesus. As Christians in more liturgical orders proclaim in the “Mystery of Faith:”

Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

It is this eternal that shapes the temporal, this history and future that defines the present. And as the people of God, this history is by extension and invitation our history. As we proclaim the mystery of faith, we affirm that by his graciousness we are able to identify with him and accept the meaning of his life as the meaning of our own. As the Apostle puts it, “It has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but when we see him, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

This Thanksgiving, then, I am thankful for my history. I am thankful for my parents, for their instruction in the faith and for introducing me to A.W. Tozer, C.S. Lewis, and Andrew Murray. I am thankful for Biola, for John Mark and Torrey Honors, and the role they played in expanding my historical understanding of the Church and its role on earth. And I am most thankful for my all-too-brief history with my lovely wife.

But all these things are inevitably ordered, are structured, around that definitive and final history that is the history of Jesus Christ. And as such, I am most grateful that he has shared his “eternal life” with us, making all that we do in his name now and always.

(Cross posted at Evangel)

Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is an Associate Professor of Ethics and Theology in Baylor University's Honors College. He has a D.Phil. in Christian Ethics from Oxford University, and is a Perpetual Member of Biola University's Torrey Honors College. In 2005, he founded Mere Orthodoxy.