September 18, 2013

Who is God?

Someone asked me what is studied in theology. I’m glad they didn’t ask me to define God.

I could say words like Creator, Almighty, Sovereign, eternal Father as if my words could “capture the unknown and the unknowable in His solitude and look on Him face-to-face.” But words are just words.

My heart stands in awe of God. He is hidden, yet ever present, distant, yet always near. He can make me shake in awed fear, and then laugh at His loving surprises. He is silent, yet amazes me with answered prayer, sometimes for huge impossible things, sometimes for simple things that others would think of as silly requests.

Those who study theology might say that God is undefinable. No one can know Him or measure Him. A young man named Elihu said these things…

Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable. (Job 36:26)

Yet others say those are not the right words. Because of Jesus Christ, God is superknowable, supervisible, and supercomprehensible. He makes the mystery of God luminous.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… (Hebrews 1:1–3)
Today’s devotional writer says what my heart also says. “From the unknowable I turn away humiliated and discouraged; from the superknowable I return humbled yet inspired. The unknowable says, ‘Fool, why knock at granite as if it were a door that could be opened?’ The superknowable says, ‘There is something larger than your intelligence; a secret, a force, a beginning, a God!’”

He adds that the difficulty is always in the negative words rather than the amazing truth. I cannot grow in my understanding of God if my stumbling feet choose the rocky path of “unknown, unknowable, invisible, and incomprehensible.” Instead, I look to the Word of God, both written and living, and see that God is here for me, a very real God who makes Himself known, not merely academically but intimately and personally. He bids me on a journey where He not only guides my feet, but holds my hand and speaks to my heart.

Some theologians try to examine God without this intimacy. They walk around Him, measure Him, break Him up into propositions and descriptions without seeing Him or hearing His voice. If this is theology, then it misses God and hits only on the human idea of God, a very barren concept indeed.

God is knowable, but oddly, He is also beyond my capacity of knowing. God is visible, yet also beyond the ability of my eyes to see Him. Without faith, God is a concept, an ideal perhaps, but not someone near. He cannot be known by intellectual prowess or theological study, only by faith. Genuine faith transforms the heart and by faith, I am forgiven and made pure. My sin is no longer a barricade to knowing. As His child, instead of the critical examination some might call “theology,” I can draw near and love Him up close and personal.

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