Tuesday, September 27, 2016

the Authorized Version of God

The Word for today:
Psalms 113, 114
Psalm 113:5 is a rhetorical question:
Who is like the LORD our God?
A rhetorical question isn't really meant to be answered. It's meant to make us think.
One reason that we have a hard time fathoming God is because we have no basis of comparison:
To whom will you liken me and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be alike? (Isaiah 46:5)
We have no analogy. We struggle to put God in terms we can understand. And when we do, we inevitably diminish him.
Is God stronger than Mr. Universe? The question is too silly to answer! God made the universe, and Mr. Universe along with it!--
To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these?
He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name,
by the greatness of his might,
and because he is strong in power not one is missing. 
(Isaiah 40:25-26)
There is no analogy or comparison. So the only way to represent God is to send God himself:
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. (Hebrews 1:1-3)
God is Spirit. (John 4:24)
Hebrews 1:3 (above) doesn't mean that Jesus was just a facsimile of God. It means that Jesus is God in a form we can see.
God is Spirit and can't be seen. But the Son, in his incarnation, can be seen. (Incarnation is a big word for what happened at Christmas when God arrived in a body--the Word of God translated into terms we could perceive and understand.)
Thank God for Philip. In response to his question, Jesus specifically taught on this subject:
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."
Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us."
Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
" (John 14:6-9)
Note well: The context of John 14:6 takes that famous verse--which I call "the First Commandment of the Old Testament"--to a level far beyond its usual application. We typically think of comes to the Father as an expression of transport--from here to heaven. Seen in context, it is crucial that comes to the Father also be seen relationally: no one comes to (an understanding of) the Father but by Jesus.
Warning: "Likenesses" so misrepresent and diminish God that they are specifically prohibited in the Second Commandment. While the warning there concerned engraved likenesses (images) we must be careful not to shrink God with our verbal expressions of him. The only sufficient image is the express image (Hebrews 1:3/KJV) of God, which is God the Son.
God is love. (1 John 4:8, 16)
The incarnation went way beyond the mere clothing of Spirit in a body we could see. The things done in the body are incarnations as well. For example, God is love, but we don't even know what love means. It's just an arrangement of letters, until the word "love" becomes flesh at the cross of Jesus Christ. Love itself was incarnated there, translated into terms we could perceive and understand.
Poets, philosophers, teachers, and theologians grope and strain for words to express who God is and what he is like. Inevitably, our words fall short. Our thoughts and comparisons often limit and confine him.  But God's vocabulary is not confined.  He has the perfect Word,

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