Sunday, September 5, 2010

Living with Ignorance

Being the rather logical person I am, it is a little bit difficult for me to basically give up on finding an answer. Whether I am looking for an answer to my daughter’s math problems (wow, I don’t remember 4th grade math being that tough), or whether I am working through a philosophical dilemma, I just seem to get obsessed if I cannot come up with a valid answer. In most cases, the worst thing that happens in this pursuit is driving my wife nuts with wanting to talk it out with her. However, in the case of trying to answer “who is God” I am realizing something worse might be at the end of my search if I am not willing to live with some level of ignorance.

This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t constantly ask and search out who God is. Instead I think what I am trying to say is that I should be very careful not to define who He is. I think as long as I continue to discover God and never let that discovery morph into defining God I am moving closer to God and into a stronger, more personal relationship with Him. When I start trying to define Him, I am actually moving away from Him and creating my version of who He is, which would be a much too limited picture of His true fullness. And in trying to define Him, I do believe we actually can carry it as far as creating our own gospel. I think this is probably where John Calvin decided that our “curiosity” is sinful.

In his “Institutes” John Calvin says it is actually a sin to dig too far into who God is or the ways of God. I am not willing to go as far as Calvin seems to go, but I do think we do ourselves harm by not realizing we simply are not capable of knowing God fully in this earthly life. I know this will be argued, but the simple fact is we are finite; God is infinite. I just don’t think we finite beings are able to truly grasp the all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever-present God. Add to that our fallen state as sinful humanity, and I am pretty sure we stand no chance at fully knowing God in this life.

Now, with that said, what can we know of God? We know Him through the incarnation of Jesus, God in flesh on earth. The way Jesus lived, interacted, obeyed, committed, and loved is our best and really only picture of God that we can understand. Jesus lived a holy (set apart) life. He loved unconditionally and sacrificially. This is the Father God. As Christ himself says, if we have seen him, we have seen the Father. How can we really know more about God than what Jesus offered us in His life?

Well, maybe we can get closer to the fullness of God through prayer. After all, God asks us to be in prayer constantly. He encourages us to bring all of our requests to Him. He promises us He is able to do more than we can ask or even imagine. Then, if we are asking to know Him fully, then I believe He will be true to His word and give us that knowledge. I also believe that until Christ returns, we will likely not be given a complete picture of God. We just can’t handle that in our messed up state, even with the Spirit in us. But, soon enough Christ will return and we will finally know the true awesome nature of God. We will see Him in all glory, and His full enormity. And maybe as our finite minds contemplate who He is as best we can today, that is the reason for “fearing” God; His shear awesomeness and enormity is something we just cannot grasp, which should leave anyone with a reverent fear.