If you happen to be a Scotsman, living somewhere beyond your native shores, the great question people ask you is, ''What's a haggis?'' ''You come from Scotland,'' they say, ''what's a haggis?'' If you try to explain that it's a traditional Scottish food, and give details, nobody's interested. The haggis, apparently, like the Loch Ness monster, has to be a mystery. But there's no mystery to the haggis.
Nor is there any mystery to religion, although people tend to make it mysterious.
We read in the Bible about Paul the Apostle's visit to the city of Athens. In a speech to the people of the city, he said, ''As I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.'' n1
n1 Acts 17:23.
Paul's task was to remove the mystery from religious thought, and he did this by explaining spiritual facts. He taught the all-loving, spiritual nature of God , and man's true dwelling place in Him.
Paul, who learned the spiritual facts of life from the words and works of Christ Jesus, was initially a hard, unbending man. Locked in his own prejudices, he persecuted Christians. But he learned. He awoke spiritually to see something of the great fact that God is Love, and that man's true nature is wholly loving.
A letter he wrote to the Christians at Corinth shows how clearly he saw the importance of love. He said, ''Now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.'' n2 The New English Biblem translates this passage, ''In a word, there are three things that last for ever: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of them all is love.''
n2 I Corinthians 13:13.
Different versions of the same spiritual idea; but whatever way it is put, in whatever language, the meaning is the same - to be loving is the supreme virtue. A kindly, loving nature is the truest manifestation of the Godlike man.
Because of the Christian revelation that God is Love, and the eternal truth, recorded in the Bible, that man is made in God's likeness, religion should no longer involve mystery. By living the spirit of Love, we know for ourselves that there is no hidden mystery to life.
''. . . Love alone is Life . . . ,'' n3 writes Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, in one of her poems. This Science shows us that Love lived is the best measure of our understanding of Life.
n3 Poems, p. 7.
What if we still consider life and religion a mystery, consider God unknowable? We all have our opinions, reflecting in greater or lesser degree the true, spiritual facts. But for us all, whether we realize it or not, God is the liberating force. He is our very creator. Divine Truth, through the spirit of Love, must be discerned and experienced by each of us sooner or later.
How did Jesus deal with those who challenged him and his mission, who questioned his revelation of Truth? The Bible shows that he often turned the question back on his questioners, putting it in terms of the questioner's own area of knowledge.
On one occasion some detractors wanted to trap him in his teaching of giving sole allegiance to God. Was it right, they asked him, to pay taxes to the Romans - or not? He requested a coin. When the coin was produced, he asked whose inscription was on it. Told that it was Caesar's, he pointed out that it was right to give to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, but he also added the vital point that we should give to God the things that are God's. n4 Through his life and works Jesus dispelled mystery, revealing the absolute supremacy of God and the demand to trust Him alone, to honor our creator in all we do. He showed the necessity of putting off the sinful, fleshly sense of life, which alone makes Deity seem mysterious, unknowable.
n4 See Matthew 22:15-22.
Life can be fully understood. ''Man is the expression of God's being,'' n5 Mrs. Eddy writes. The indestructible, pure, loving nature of the divine creator is the true nature of each of us - we eternally manifest His being. There is depth to, but no mystery about, God and man.
n5 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 470.
DAILY BIBLE VERSE They shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them saith the Lord. Jeremiah 31:34