I recently read an Old Testament scholar who talked about how bringing the ceilings of churches down low as a metaphor for our relationship with God. Historically, churches have had vaulted ceilings as a sign of God’s greatness. Figuratively speaking, bringing down the ceilings has brought God down to us. While having God as a friend is a good thing, losing his identity is not.
Let me see if I can explain. I suppose it starts with fear of God. I historically hated this idea. How could I fear my best friend? Back in the 1990s, I did some research, and found that some equated fear of God as fear of disappointing a loved one. I was typically devastated when I disappointed my parents, so this was a fear of God I could accept.
Twenty years later, I’m rethinking this. Actually, I still have no problem with that concept, but there is more to it. As humans we are afraid of people who are more powerful than us. We are afraid of things that can hurt us, or cut our time on Earth short. Yet, God who is all-powerful, who could snuff us out in a second, is not one to be feared. As I ponder this, I realize it makes no sense. In truth, while God is not vindictive or mean, my survival instinct should kick in and generate a natural fear response to one as great as God.
I am not advocating that one develop an irrational fear of God. My point is that the goal in life is transcendence. Thus, by bringing God down to our level, we have taken away our goal. As a result, our lives are mundane, and most of us take anti-depressants, and wish there was something more in life. There is. There is a God of great power and might who wants to activate the Holy Spirit within us. He wants this same Spirit to elevate us to his level. He wants to share his very essence with us. In this way only can we be fulfilled humans.
Spend some time today at the base of Mt. Sinai. Meditate on the experience of the ancient Israelites who witnessed God’s great might. Hear the thunder. See the lightening. Feel the Earth quake. Experience the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Do not let the end result of your reaction be the same as theirs, where they asked Moses to mediate for them. Just spend some time recognizing his greatness. Once you have pondered the great divide between his awesomeness and power, climb the mountain with Moses. Climb the mountain with a little fear and trembling within. In this way maybe our life journey can be a process of climbing the mountain, of transcending and becoming more like him. When we reach the top, then we, like Moses and the elders who went with him, will feast face-to-face with our creator.
One thought on “On the Nature of God”
Yes, the sense of being in the presence of something that utterly surpasses you should be alarming, at least at first. This is the beginning of wisdom. Then the fact that this something loves you, well, that should be a bit unnerving as well. This is the continued growth of wisdom. And finally, the recognition that without this something’s help, you will always fall short, well, that is frightening as well. And yet, we can turn to this something and love this something, and that is awe-some also.