Friday, March 24, 2017

We Live

The Grand Heresy

There is a question I think everyone asks in some way. It isn't something you'd actually speak out loud or something you'd likely discuss with friends. You happily allude to it, but nothing more. There is something dark in the question, something fearful. At its heart, it is the presumption of wisdom and the insolence of perspective. We can't help ourselves, though. Lost in our belief that we, too, can be like God it becomes natural to question Him. What does He think of our questions? We sometimes condemn ourselves willingly and other times we condemn Him, perhaps defensively thinking we are owed the opportunity. I don't know what Almighty God thinks of our constant questioning. Not really. Not ever really. It is impossible for me to know His mind in the manner I intimate with the word "know." I can see parts of it and I can accept the gift of understanding. But to truly comprehend Him implies, for me, a fullness of understanding which is logically impossible.

I cannot hold God in my mind. At least, I insist on believing I cannot. He is creator. He is infinite. He would have to be no greater than me to be contained in my finite mind. This a comforting impossibility. He grants glimpses of how He views our audacity. I think of the story of Job and am comforted to know He is not threatened or defensive. Truly, He couldn't be, correct? How could God feel threatened by us or feel the need to be defensive? Yet I am comforted to know He is neither. He is... bemused possibly. Job endured more than I think my constitution could withstand, for I am so very weak. He was faithful throughout. He wasn't faithful in my estimation, he was faithful in God's estimation. God listened to him and possibly even considered his complaints. And why shouldn't Job complain? He lost love, comfort, hope, security and support. He complained. Yet, he did not condemn God for his misfortune. He understood that God is God and he was a man. Job eschewed the idea that he could be like God. He considered himself low, and faithfully so.

I want to have that kind of faithfulness. I don't want to prove it or be tested in it. Let nobody ever believe I would. I want none of what Job endured. I only want to be, in my mind, as faithful as that man. To consider God to be God and to see myself as low - never to imagine for one fleeting moment that I am equal to God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and oh, how deeply I want to embody that fear. I want wisdom. Not to flirt with her beauty, but to be locked in her arms. I want my intractable self-adoration to be yoked by wisdom.

Job complained. He questioned. He didn't question the Godhood of God, but rather the manifestation of it. He never accused God of being selfish. This may seem an odd observation, but I think an honest assessment would reveal how often we accuse God of selfishness. Because we think of selfishness as the evil that it is in our context. For me to be selfish, to place myself at the pinnacle of my own consideration, is purest sin. I do not belong there. I never have. But God? He belongs there for both Himself and myself. He can't be selfish. It is logically inconsistent to think it. The only place where God could be considered selfish is the desolate heresy where He is seen as less than God, somehow available to our feeble judgement. Somehow contained in our minds and worthy of our ire. Job failed to think that way. He never questioned God's immutable right to bathe our existence in suffering. For God to torment us is no evil. It isn't bad. It isn't sin. It wouldn't remove His Godhood. He possesses the right to treat us in whatever fashion He pleases. Job didn't just imagine this concept. He fully accepted it and mistakenly believed God might be acting just so. But God never did. Job just wondered why God wanted the fate he was experiencing.

The closest Job came to accusing God of impropriety was in his questioning. He wanted to know what part of God's nature called for such experiences. I think, in this way, Job remained faithful to God. He accepted, unquestioningly, God's sovereignty and wondered, incorrectly, which portion of God's nature was pleased to inflict such circumstances on Job. And God corrected his misconception. Time and again God reminds us His nature is not to remove our enjoyment. He is the source of happiness and the wellspring of all that we enjoy. No matter how many times we attempt to foist our unhappiness upon Him, He has never added any of those things to our life. He may allow them and that is a concept which the mind trembles to comprehend. But He doesn't bring them. As much as He could, as much as it would not be wrong for Him to do so, He does not. In fact, He protects us from our own comeuppance to varying extents. We deserve so much pain and suffering. We asked God to go away and in doing so, requested the source of happiness to disappear from our existence. Of course, He did no such thing, but that's what we have requested. He stands between us and the consequences of our folly, protecting our lives with undeserved affection and blessing. The Apostle Paul speaks of this reality. He exhorts us to accept the tremendous compliment paid to us when God allows us to experience, for His sake, portions of the pain we deserve. I read his words as telling us to accept the amazing blessing God allows when He gives us the chance to turn our consequences into His glory. There is a transformation in that which destroys me. I can't, in beginning to understand this concept, maintain my composure. I am shaking as I write it.

Though lost under the weight of pondering the great depths of my sinfulness, God has granted us the overwhelming beauty of experiencing His glories. There is no truthful logic which can carry our minds to anywhere but facedown adoration. How He can transform this mess which I call my life is beyond mere acceptance. I can begin to see how His glory would absolutely erase my existence without the protection of the justification provided by Jesus. He wants me to exist, and never placed me in a position where I would be destroyed. He made a way for me to exist and to avoid the separation I keep asking for.

And in these thoughts lies some of the foundation for the question. People wonder: If this is the paradigm of life and if we are meant to be with God while wishing for separation, then would it not be better that we had never been created to begin with? It is embodied in rhetorical musings like "It would have been better if he was never born." It is a sentiment often raised when we are overwhelmed by consequence or observing someone else who is. Or in my co-worker, hearing about the trials endured by the babies we foster, saying "Well, if ever there were an argument for the legalization of abortion..." It is the blind passion dictating statements like "I just want to die" or "I can't wait until this life is over." It is dishonest, yes, but it is also the petulant pouting of our shared belief that we are equal to our creator. If we can't have everything the way we think we want it, even though we completely lack any understanding of what we want, then God was wrong to create us in the first place. For myself, I have resolved the answer to this view. Life is a blessing. It is a gift which doesn't require justification. It is a kindness unaffected by circumstance or choice. Praise God for making us. Praise Him without ceasing.

1 comment:

  1. There is also the revelation in the book of Romans that no matter how profound our suffering, there is a day promised when we will look back on our difficulties and trials and consider them as nothing compared to the glory that God will have revealed to us. I have witnessed much suffering; I have felt grief; I have watched people go through valleys deeper than I could have survived. So I know the promise is immensely great. I hold to it because I know the one who promised is faithful and He will do it.