Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The greatest thing you'll ever learn...

Had a really good discussion with my college Chaplain at lunch in Hall today. I asked him if he was at the William Lane Craig debate on Friday (see Friday April 29 entry) and he said he wasn't. He asked for a brief recap. We then talked about how when it comes to knowing God, there's a limit to how far your understanding can take you. At some point you have to acknowledge that it is just a mystery, that your finite mind cannot completely grasp the infinite.

That is not an excuse for mysticism and superstition of course; we should push the limits of understanding as far as possible, but there comes a point where you can push no further. Locke, in his Essay on Human Understanding points out in the introduction that we can't know everything, but what we do know, we can systematically understand.

We are not forever groping about in the dark, because even though we don't know the intricate workings of God's mind, we know his very character and his very nature, as revealed in Scripture and supremely in the life and work of Jesus Christ. And if you believe, we can know him also through his very presence and work in our lives. Because knowing is not just a purely intellectual exercise, but a personal experience as well.

When you reach the limits of human understanding, it takes humility to say, Lord, I don't know, but it is enough for me that You know, all the while trusting in His goodness. I don't know exactly how my heater works (clearly I wasn't paying attention in science class...), but I can feel the heat that it produces and it keeps me warm. And that is good enough for me. Of course there is no need for that now that summer's here, thank God.

Another analogy that struck me when I was thinking about the limits of human understanding. This might surprise you (or it might not), but when I was young I was quite the little monster. And when I was punished for my various misdeeds, I never understood why I deserved it - I had done nothing wrong. Much kicking and screaming would ensue. Including several "I hate yous", which of course I never actually meant. The thing is, even though I couldn't (or wouldn't) accept why I was being punished, fundamentally I never doubted that my mother loved me.

So while I don't understand everything (how exactly does the tsunami fit into God's plan?), I know enough of the very nature and character of God, to know that He loves me, and that He loves you.

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror;
then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part;
then I shall know fully,
even as I am fully known. - 1 Corinthians 13:12

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. - 1 John 4:9-10

I remember we spoke about this once, how the Moulin Rouge tagline reads "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return."

When actually, "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is how to be loved, and to love in return."

Because God loved us first.

1 comment:

melliocity said...

I was googling I Corinthians 13:12 tonight and doing some thinking about the past few years and I saw your blog. I just wanted to say that it had an impact. I hope it's ok to give a friend the link to read. I have no idea who you are, but Blessings.