“I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
When you pray, how do you think of God or imagine Him? Do you think of God as transcendent, exalted high above you as Isaiah saw God in a vision, “sitting on a throne, high and lofty” (Isaiah 6:1)? Or do you think of God as immanent, intimately close to you, as Immanuel, “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23)?
Through the centuries, Christians have swung in their thinking about God between the poles of His otherness and His nearness. Scripture does not emphasize one against the other, but holds in balance God’s wondrous otherness and His closeness. He is mystery!
The psalmists exult in God as “the LORD on high”, while at the same time, “He attends to the lowly” (Psalm 138:6). Prophets and apostles praise Him as inscrutable, as high above us “as the heavens are above the earth” (Isaiah 55:9; Romans 11:33-36), while knowing He can feel with us and “sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus said that His Father is moved by the sparrow that falls to the ground (Matthew 10:29) and that Abba numbers the hairs of our head (Matthew 10:30). God shows His transcendence, His otherness from us, while so humbly loving and caring for the lowly.
The prophet Isaiah glories in God’s otherness and His nearness: “For thus says the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with those who are contrite and humble” (Isaiah 57:15). We cannot be like God in His transcendence, in the ways he is all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere present, but we can seek to be like Him in the ways He loves and humbly gives Himself for others.
When Jesus commands followers, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), He is not commanding the absolute perfection of Deity, but the perfection of God showing mercy and compassion even to His enemies – “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). For us to be merciful like the Father shows us to be “children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked” (Luke 6:35)! Oh Father, do fill us up to more of your fullness!
THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
“The criterion of the depth of one’s spiritual growth is therefore love for one’s enemies.” Olivier Clement