The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

My Photo
Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Illusion

Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of our religion: He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.
1 Timothy (RSV) 3:16

St. Augustine once said that if anyone claimed to understand God, that person had created an idol for himself. God is a mystery. He is beautiful, powerful, loving, merciful, omniscient, and omnipotent, and yet none of those adjectives do justice to describing who He really is. No matter how poetic or primitive the description, the fact remains that God is a mystery.

Modern living has a tendency to lull one into a belief that by the simple virtue of living several hundred or even thousands of years later one has greater wisdom than the ancients. Certainly humanity has gained more scientific knowledge. Man knows more facts about things in this world. Aristotle would likely not make it very far in Jeff Foxworthy's popular game show "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?"

The question must be asked. Does knowledge of all of the intricacies of a fallen world that is passing away really matter? If man were somehow able to explain everything about his temporal world from the grandiose to the subatomic, is he all the better for it, or has he simply immersed himself into a grand illusion of self-reliance that finds no need for God?

And yet the things of this world do matter. They were created by God to serve a purpose. What if instead of studying simply how things worked one instead focussed upon how things glorified God? True, this would not be an exact science. There would be many areas of subjectivity. One scientist in this field might argue that a tree glorifies God because it provides shade and comfort to man while a second scientist might posit that the tree's greater glory rests in its production of life-giving oxygen. The primary conclusion for both would be that the tree praises the Almighty. How it does it becomes secondary.

For all men who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature; and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know him who exists, nor did they recognize the craftsman while paying heed to his works; but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift air, or the circle of the stars, or turbulent water, or the luminaries of heaven were the gods that rule the world. If through delight in the beauty of these things men assumed them to be gods, let them know how much better than these is their Lord, for the author of beauty created them. And if men were amazed at their power and working, let them perceive from them how much more powerful is he who formed them. For from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator.
Wisdom (RSV) 13:1-5

It was a Jew living in Alexandria, Egypt, about 100 years before Christ, who by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, committed these words to parchment. He wrote it in Greek. His name has been swallowed up by history and likely will never be known, but the word of God he scribed lives into today. It is clear that all created things are intended to point to God.

And humanity, especially humanity, gets included in that created list of things that give a corresponding perception of the Creator. No clearer could that fact be than the reality that a century after the Book of Wisdom was written, God stepped directly into human history in the form of a man whose nature was divine, our Lord Jesus Christ.

"Follow me."

That was the simple command of Our Savior over and over again. He didn't say to Phillip, "study me." His words to Peter were not "dissect me." Matthew wasn't asked to understand the origin of things. Each of these apostles and a few disciples were simply asked by Jesus to follow Him.

God is a mystery, a truth one can never fully understand; yet the mysterious can be embraced. One hardly understands why a parent's first sight of a newborn child infuses such instant love into their hearts; and yet that love is real even if and especially since it transcends the bonds of quantification.


Post a Comment

<< Home