When was the last time you simply stood in awe of God? Maybe the last time when admiring a sunset as it’s slow disappearance splashed an array of colors across the sky, you then acknowledged that God is an amazing creator. But, when were you truly in speechless wonder over the mystery of God himself?
Now, I don’t mean “mystery” in a weird, mystical, pentecostal sense where people work themselves into a frenzy and try to justify ridiculousness under the auspices of the Holy Spirit. No, I’m talking about the inability to comprehend the entirety of God. Too often we make the greatness of God something that applies to us and our actions, something we do without explanation. This greatness that we try, but fail miserably at comprehending and packaging into a neat and presentable doctrine is the very reason we should worship him as God. After all, if we can understand Him fully, is He really that great? If our minds are able to condense and explain every part of His being and every aspect of His nature, is He really worth serving as the One who is above all?
Do we revel too much in the label we’ve adopted from other religions and intellectually called ourselves “People of the Book,” rather than simply a people who love God?
I think one of the greatest failures of Christianity may be that we like to reduce God to an explainable being, whose full nature is revealed between the covers of a collection of scriptures. What other explanation could there be for the condescension between differing views among believers, other than the false notion of the entirety of knowledge?
This desire for complete understanding should be something driving us to humility as we cannot fully grasp God’s greatness. However, all too often it ends in an arrogant attitude toward others who do not share the same doctrine.
The more I study scripture and the truths that have been revealed by God, I come to the conclusion that I must be okay with simply not knowing some things. Any intellectually honest biblical scholar will have to maintain that there are irreconcilable assertions throughout scripture. What do we do with this when people ask those difficult questions? Do we conjure up an answer… or are we humble enough to admit that God is unfathomable?
We espouse a system of belief that is rooted in faith, but as Christians do we really have faith or generally rely on reason?
Failure to adequately understand God shouldn’t make us fearful or frustrated. Our inability to understand God should inspire within us a greater sense of worship at His wonder.
Matt Redman describes this wonder or greatness as the “otherness” of God; that part that we just don’t understand. Perhaps my favorite quote about this is in his book Facedown:
“Worship thrives on wonder. We can admire, appreciate and perhaps even adore someone without a sense of wonder. But we cannot worship without wonder. For worship to be worship it must contain something of the otherness of God.
I’ve come to love that word- ‘otherness.’ It’s such a great worship word. A sense that God is so pure, matchless and unique that no one else and nothing else even comes close. He is altogether glorious – unequalled in splendor and unrivaled in power. He is beyond the grasp of human reason – far above the reach of even the loftiest scientific mind. Inexhaustible, immeasurable, and unfathomable – eternal, immortal and invisible.
Sometimes in the church we take the extraordinary revelation of God and somehow manage to make Him sound completely ordinary! We fail to communicate the sense of God’s otherness. As A.W. Tozer puts it, ‘Left to ourselves we tend immediately to reduce God to manageable terms.’”
This recognition of the unknowable attributes of God should bring us comfort. Although we don’t always see the purpose or outcome of a hardship we must experience, we can trust in the God who promised His spirit will be with us through it all.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.