Christianity As A Mystical Relationship
On the hill called Calvary two thousand years ago, through the torn and pulverized flesh of the Son of God, an eternal pathway was opened through which men could be reconciled to God. By the purging of their sins and the cancelation of their condemnation, man was made righteous, holy, and perfect through faith in the offering of Christ.
Reconciliation implies the establishment of peace between two persons. The Person of God and the persons of man in this case. The ultimate goal of the Christian is not a flawless ethical lifestyle, nor is it to invite the world into the bliss of this reconciliation. These are effects of the ultimate goal, not goals in and of themselves. The goal, my friends, is to know Him. Jesus likened eternal life itself to this "knowing" (Jn 17:3). And Paul, Peter, and John exhorted us to know Him, to grow in our knowledge of Him, and that love was evidence of our knowledge of Him (Eph 3:19; 2 Pet 1:2; 1 Jn 4:8).
Knowledge in both Greek and Hebrew are understood to be obtained through first-hand experience via the senses. Thus to "know God" is not relegated to the realm of mere mental ascent, but forces us to into the flames of direct personal experience with the Person of God, and there, to be consumed by the unabating furnace of His affection.
Christianity is therefore a mystical union of weak sinful men with the pure and perfect Love that is God. Mysticism from a Christian perspective implies a personal relationship with God in which we enter behind the veil so to speak, to behold what was formerly hidden and to know Him for who He is thoroughly and completely. Traditionally the Christian mystics suffered from a lack of good theology, due to the Scriptures not being necessarily available to them (at least in the western tradition). Thus they saw the mystic pathway as a means to union and not stemming from union. Generally speaking mysticism was outlined in a five step pathway towards union including Awakening, Purgation, Illumination, Dark Night of The Soul, and finally Union.
This pathway is somewhat backwards compared to the what the Bible describes. We are United with Him from the beginning, through personal relationship with Him and communion we are continually Illumined, we will experience various Dark Nights of the Soul which will lead to a fortification of our relationship with Him and lead to a new stages of Illumination, and the cycle repeats itself.
God's means of conferring unto us knowledge of Himself is threefold: We know Him through the Word, through witnessing His intervention in our lives, and through direct personal experiences. Notice two of the primary means of knowledge are experiential. These two are indeed the most direct way to truly knowing Him. We can know about Him via the text of Scripture, but the knowledge that God desires for us to obtain is intimate, personal, and transformative.
The mystics of old called these direct personal experiences "ecstasies." Ecstasies, or ecstatic experiences, are not always necessarily marked by a sensory overload of pure emotional, mental, and physical bliss. Though they are often accompanied by such things, but the point of ecstasies are the knowledge of God, or a deepening of the relationship with Him. These can be thought of as moments of clarity, or revelation, varying in intensity.
We are called to a mystical lifestyle of being enraptured by the Person of God and falling deeper and deeper in love with Him. Through the action of intentional focused efforts to commune with God via an endless medium of Spiritual disciplines, this mystical relationship is cultivated and established.