Readings for July 8, 2018
2 Corinthians 12:7-10
I try to devote significant time to practicing and growing my faith. I attend church regularly, read the Bible daily, sometimes debate theology, and pray often—all good things. However, the danger in all of this time that I’ve devoted is that sometimes I start to think I know God and His Son pretty well. When I do so, I can suffer from putting God in a box. It seems Jesus’ neighbors and family in Capernaum thought and did the same.
To them, Jesus was just “the carpenter, the son of Mary.” They knew Jesus as a child. They watched him grow up. And they felt fit to define him by this understanding, which prevented them from seeing him as anything more. “What he’s up to?” They must have wondered when he returned to town. “We know this guy, what’s with the wisdom and the miracles? C’mon, it’s just Jesus!” What they believed they knew of Jesus is neatly kept in the box they’ve built around him and he is unable to perform miracles in their presence, preventing them from growing in their faith.
When I begin to enclose God in a box of my own making, I subject myself to the same fate. In all of my exploration and faith I may think that I know Jesus better than his hometown neighbors did. I don’t, but even if that were true my understanding is only a teaspoon in all of the oceans. My fault is that I want to define God by my own understanding rather than embrace what I do not know. Doing so is dangerous. By placing my own parameters around God, based on my own limited knowledge, I place those same parameters around my faith. Suddenly, God is limited to merely what my own mind can fathom. When I do not embrace more than my own understanding, I bind the unboundedness of God’s greatness. In this I risk having so little faith in all that is God that Jesus cannot perform his mighty deeds within me.
That said, I believe we have the Bible and the Church because God does want me to know some things about Him. So with an open heart and a caution to not define or limit God or to lean on my own understanding, here is what I believe I know: I know that I was lovingly created in the image and likeness of my Creator. I also know that I was individually and uniquely created and am individually and uniquely loved by that same Creator. As I live in this world of uniquely created beings, I can only begin to see a small glimpse of the uniqueness and grandeur of my Creator God. If all 7.6 billion people currently on this earth have been individually and uniquely fashioned in the image and likeness of Him, then His majesty is unfailing and far beyond my own comprehension.
This is incredible! Embracing my humanity, I am left to marvel at the mystery of God that surpasses my understanding. He did not sacrifice His Son, give me Church, the Bible, theology, or prayer so that I could define Him, but so that I can love Him. In doing so, I allow God to be God of the universe and not just a genie in the box. In doing so, I can live within the full dignity of His returned love. In doing so, I am made whole.
Blessed are you alone, Lord God our Father. Save me from my unbelief. In You, Lord, is greatness and might, majesty, victory and splendor. All in heaven and on earth is Yours. We give you thanks, Lord, and we praise the majesty of your holy name.
-Based 1 Chronicles 29:10-13