Monday, May 31, 2010


TO KNOW GOD Wherever the sun is shining, wherever there is a stone, wherever a flower, a drop of water, or a human tear, God is Present. There does not seem to be a single difficult word in the entire sentence. Yet I am deeply aware that I do not know what the sentence means. The word that makes this true, of course, is the word God. It is not that the sentence has no meaning for me. It has a great wealth of meaning, and beauty and power. It has so much meaning that I can read it over and over again and still see more of what it actually says to me, of what it means, of its beauty, and its power. This is all true because the sentence contains the word God. Just stop for a moment and think of what comes to your mind when I use the word God… What words come? What thoughts? Do memories come? Do special occasions in your life, people, and experiences come: How much time would it take for you to run out of ideas when it comes to thinking about God? Was there any excitement or thrill for you in the experience of thinking about God? Could you fill a page with the ideas that came to your mind in thinking about God? Would it have been just as easy, or perhaps easier for you had I invited you to think about a neighbor or a close friend rather than of God? Now, perhaps, you begin to understand why I said I did not know what that first sentence means, though I know it means more than any of the others that have followed it. And perhaps you will understand why I used a capital letter “p” when I said God is Present. For anyone else, or anything else, a small “p” would have been correct and enough. I know that. But for me, though I do not know all this means, God is always Present. No one else but God knows what this means. No one else can, because no one else is God. We use the word present of God and of others. In both instances it means something similar and yet something different. God is not just bigger and better, stronger and more wise and good than we, though this is as far as some people get in their notions about God. Everything we say or think of God falls short of the whole truth about God. The whole truth about God is absolutely beyond anything we might say or think. Few people seem to realize this and we find them speaking and thinking about God almost as though God were just better than we rather than absolutely different as well as absolutely the same! Try to figure out what that means and we are trying to figure out the answer to the question who is God. Analogies sometimes help, but they do not solve the problem. You may have a quart of water from the ocean in a jar, but you do not have the ocean. If someone were to ask you of the photo you keep in your Bible “Who is that (sic!)?, you have no problem saying “She is my best friend. It is a picture of your best friend all right, and no one else; that is true. But the photo is, like all photos, only paper, and your best friend is a living woman. It is a case of something being similar yet different, on a limited scale. When we think and speak of God there is limited similarity between our thoughts and words and the total truth about God, but the difference is absolute, without limit. Words like awesome, majestic, stupendous, astonishing, stunning, adorable, most generous, kind and great are all words we could be comfortable with in speaking and thinking of God, yet none of them or all of them together, express even in human terms the solution. God alone would know it. Because God is kind, generous and all those words we use when we try on our own to think or speak of God, God has solved the problem for us in Jesus. In Jesus, by faith, we see God walking, hear God speaking, share God’s love in human circumstances and in particular times and places. Jesus claims this for Himself on behalf of all people down to the very end of the world. “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, ever at the Father’s side, who has revealed him.” (Jn. 1: 18). (Also Jn. 3:32; Jn. 6; 46; and: “I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence” J. 8: 38). “Lord,” Phillip said to Jesus, “Show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” “Phillip” Jesus replied, “after I have been with you all this time, you still do not know me? (Jn. 14: 8,9). “If you really knew me, you would know the Father also.” (Jn. 14: 7; Jn. 8: 19). “The Father and I are one.” ( Jn. 10:30). Jesus insists there is but ONE GOD. Yet Jesus speaks of God as Father. Jesus Himself claims to be God. Jesus speaks of sending the Holy Spirit From Heaven and of the Spirit as divine. In what Jesus tells us of the Father, Himself, and the Holy Spirit being truly God, and in His clear proclamation of one God the Creator of all that is, we have a mystery clearly and appropriately beyond our limited human understanding or imagination. Otherwise we would not be thinking or speaking about God but an image or thought our minds would have produced. We believe, we know by faith the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. Now by faith, after judgment our knowledge will be “face to face”. But now, and then, always, and everywhere, the one Eternal God, Father Creator, Son Redeemer, and Holy Spirit Sanctifier, awesome beyond thoughts and words, is yet intimately and personally close. The model of our love for God is the perfect total unconditional love of Jesus on the Cross. In response to the words of Jesus: “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (Jn. 14: 10), and His identification of our union with Him as a union of branches on a vine (Jn. 15: 5), here is short prayer you might find appropriate for the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity: “Live, my Triune God, so live in me, that all I do be done by Thee, that all I think and all I say be Thy thoughts and words today. Amen!”

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