I will soon be heading back to Lancaster. My two days away with God (DAWGs) proved to be refreshing and renewing. I spent much time in pondering, planning, praying, and reading (Scripture and a few other books I am currently reading through). In one of these other books (Christless Christianity) I was struck by one of the author's insights. It struck me because for quite some time I have sensed a significant shortcoming among American Christians (and it may be so for Christians elsewhere in the world, but my observations are, for the most part, of American Christians). Michael Horton's comments were one of those "ahah!" moments for me. This is what he writes:
"In American religion . . . there is almost no sense of God's difference from us - in other words, his majesty, his sovereignty, self-existence, and holiness. God is my buddy, my inmost experience, or the power source for my living my best life now."
I stopped after reading those words ... "Yes, that's it! That is the problem I have been observing all this time!" You see, the Bible is clear that God is both immanent and transcendent. When we say that God is immanent, we are saying that God is "with us" or always near by. The word itself comes from two Latin words meaning "remaining" and "in." Now when we refer to God being transcendent, we are saying the opposite. The word carries the meaning of being beyond the limits of all possible experience and knowledge. When we say that God is transcendent, we are saying that He is above and beyond the universe as we know it. So putting these two concepts together relative to God (which is quite difficult for us finite (i.e. "limited") creatures to do), they tell us that God is both fully present and engaged in this created realm in which we live AND that he is totally distinct from it (as Isaiah 55:9 tells us, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.")
Now most American Christians "get" this idea of God's immanence. After all it is fed to believers almost none stop through the lyrics of popular worship songs, the best-selling books of authors like Joel Osteen, and via thousands and thousands of pulpits in churches across America. Now I am all for living in light of the truth of God's immanence. But, unfortunately, most American Christians have lost a handle (if they ever had a grip on it in the first place!) on this equally important TRUTH of God's transcendence. As a result, our Christian journey of faith suffers - and suffers greatly.
I invite you today to pull out your Bible and read Isaiah chapter 40. This is one of the great passages of Scripture that focuses on the transcendence of our GREAT, ALMIGHTY and INFINITE GOD! What a God we our privileged to call Father!!!
Thanks for stopping by . . .