One of the common objections to the Christian faith is the supernatural. People object to claims that miraculous events have happened, which are not immediately repeatable. At the center of this objection is not having Jesus right here, walking around proving Himself. If Jesus really rose from the dead, why doesn’t he remain here on earth, showing himself to everyone, so that everyone will believe?
First off, we should point out that the very nature of a miracle or the supernatural is non-repeatable. Or at least, it cannot be summoned at our beck and call. Otherwise it isn’t miraculous or supernatural. It’s just natural. If we accept the testimony of most men from most cultures we have to believe that sometimes miracles do occur. If you refuse to believe in miracles, you must refuse to believe the testimony of most human beings throughout the history of the world. But if we believe that sometimes the unexpected happens, sometimes the ordinary laws of nature are suspended, then we must reckon with the question of why or how this is possible.
The Apostle Peter gives two reasons why many have chosen to believe the claims of the Bible and in particular, the story of Jesus of Nazareth. First, he says that even though most Christians have not seen Jesus, they have a deep, abiding joy and are filled with glory, which is the beginning of the salvation they have obtained (1 Pet. 1:8-9). While this could be construed as pure mysticism, Peter continues and connects that salvation with the careful inquiry and diligent study of the Jewish prophets (1 Pet. 1:10-11).
Mysticism is not a careful study. It’s a random, irrational belief in vague, spiritual realities. But this is where the Christian faith parts ways with mysticism. While the Christian faith is thoroughly supernatural, and as Peter explicitly points out, is driven by the work of the Holy Spirit, it is nevertheless the sort of religion that values careful searching and diligent research.
Christianity has the audacity to posit a way of life that holds these two realities together, the natural and the supernatural, history and faith. These are not opposed anymore than our reason and emotions are enemies. And perhaps this is at least part of why Christians are so full of joy and glory. Because they are constantly invited to be fully human, to embrace all that God has created, without having to choose between one or the other. Because Jesus has embraced all that it means to be human, suffered for our sins, and risen from the dead, He has redeemed it all. And I suspect that’s a big part of what the angels always longed to look into (1 Pet. 1:11-12).