A Problem Presents Itself
One morning after I had made my morning tea, I was headed from the kitchen to my chair in the living room ruminating that I was about to read and meditate on the section of Luke where the passion of Christ begins. As I crossed the floor, I felt an underlying uneasiness as I considered Jesus, the man who would die on a cross as a perfect sacrifice for sin. Was I entertaining some kind of doubt? Could it be that after all these years I still wondered whether Jesus, the man, was indeed God? Or was it still inconceivable to me that God would become man?
The problem is EternitySitting in my chair, I pressed the thought further. No, it wasn’t Jesus’ being God that was difficult to fathom. Was it that there was no God? No, that wasn’t exactly it either. As I thought of the alternative to God, namely the material world only, a closed system, rather than one in which there is a transcendent being by whom all things came into being, it dawned on me that the concept I was struggling with was Eternity. Whether your world view admits a God or excludes One, it originates at the same place, in Eternity. For the believer in a Creator, the origin of matter is within the Eternity of the Creator. For the materialist, it is matter that is eternal.
Imminent, Transcendent or Both?The very concept of Eternity boggles my mind. Existing in a time and space continuum, my mind simply cannot conceive of Eternity. It is outside of linear material experience and understanding. In fact, there is nothing to do in the face of Eternity but to worship. Hence it is fully understandable why materialism can admit pantheism, why it can admit Buddhism. Such religious and philosophical systems exist only within the material world of which we are a part. Indeed, they admit nothing outside of the universe. But the God of Judaism and Christianity is a transcendent God, existing outside of the universe, though present in it, and is the cause of its being.
No, indeed, what boggles my mind most is that Eternity exists and that within Eternity there is a God. In other words, I marvel that anything exists at all! And yet, here I am, thinking, breathing, eating, sleeping. I am because He is. Indeed. This is the name by which He revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush at Mt. Sinai, when Moses asked Him whom he should say to the Israelites had sent him. “I AM”. God is and has been and always will be. When He reveals Himself, it is as a declaration of the Existence of the Eternal. The proper response to the Great I Am is worship. We will inevitably worship that which we believe to be eternal.
The Goodness of GodBut oh! How wrong we often are about what is eternal. Let us for a moment entertain the possibility that the universe is indeed eternal. We would have to worship it. But to worship the creation is to worship a harsh, capricious mistress, for there is much undeniable evil in this world. Shall we worship evil? Scripture tells us that God alone is good. He is in fact nothing but goodness itself. And this again is a wonder beyond wonders: That God exists and is in addition, Good! If God were in fact capricious and evil, still we would have to worship Him because our minds, having been made for worship, would still respond in the same way to the Eternal.
But God is good! Yet, what does it mean that God is good? That He is somehow like milk toast? Sweet and yet without much substance? No indeed. For God has revealed Himself as a God of vengeance, of retribution, of wrath. He is not in fact a lion without teeth or claw. He is as Lewis’ Aslan in The Silver Chair, good but not safe. Our God is a consuming fire, for being good in His essence, He hates evil, the absence of the Good. And evil has entered into His perfect creation through the rebellion and fall of Adam and Eve and twisted and perverted it. No, the wonder of wonders is that God being good, hating evil, but loving His creation, desires to redeem it. And there is but one way and one way only to do so and that is to enter into the creation to redeem and restore it to Himself. And this He has done in the Man Jesus, the Son of God. The Son of God became the Son of Man to redeem mankind from bondage to death and decay and the evil that accompanies a fallen nature. And so I worship with confidence the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.