Minister’s Forum: God is hearing us and helping us
In John 8:23, Jesus said, “You are of this world; I am not of this world.” This explains why we misunderstand God so much of the time; we are of this world, and God is not.
Theologians call this the transcendence of God, meaning that God is independent of and superior to the rest of the universe. One of the most important implications of this is: there is something greater than human beings “out there.” On the surface, that sounds like a no-brainer, but the truth is we really believe the opposite of that statement. In our minds, we are the center of the universe. “It’s all about me” is our favorite song.
For example, the UK Telegraph ran an article Nov. 21 titled “Mankind shortening the universe’s life.” The theory is that we have the ability to alter the nature of the universe. But we are so small, we don’t even register in the universe. As one writer said, “We are insignificantly significant.” For some reason, God loves people; he’s made a special place in his universe where we can live, he came down to live among us for a while so he could show us what he is like (see John 1:14), and he laid down his own life to pay for our sins and make it possible for us to enjoy him and live with him forever.
Job 22: 12Ð14 says, “God is so great – higher than the heavens, higher than the farthest stars. But you reply, ‘That’s why God can’t see what I am doing! How can he judge through the thick darkness? For thick clouds swirl about him, and he cannot see us.’ “
Don’t make the same mistake of thinking that God is so far away he has no idea what you’re doing. God is not only transcendent, he is also immanent.
For example, though we can’t see them, feel them or hear them without help, radio waves are all around us and even passing through us. That’s what is meant by the immanence of God – he is present and active in and all around us. And just like radio waves, he is independent of and distinct from his creation. He is not a part of creation; he is independent and superior to it. One implication of that truth is that we can learn a lot about God by observing his creation. There is order, predictability, beauty, immensity and intricacy. When you observe the universe, it is obvious that a very intelligent person made it, just as it is obvious that a brilliant mind is behind the invention of the computer.
Carl Sagan called the Earth the “pale blue dot.” And after seeing the vastness and wonder of God’s creation, he concluded that there is no one out there who can save us from ourselves. He had seen a glimpse of the bigness of God but missed his closeness.
I hope you won’t miss him this Christmas. This is the time we celebrate the transcendent God becoming flesh and living among us. He promises that if we earnestly seek him, he is close enough for us to find him. Merry Christmas.
– John Aldax is teaching pastor at Sierra Community Church.