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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Can God Tell Time?

Well, today's class was probably the kind that only a student of theology could enjoy. We had a two-hour plus discussion about the relation of God to time. Did God create time? Was time just the natural consequence of God creating finite matter? Did humanity in essence begin time when we begin marking off the days? Is God present with us in time, or does he see all of history, and all of the future, from one "above all" position? You might think that these kind of discussions are meaningless (and I'll admit that on some levels they might be!) but when you work out the implications of each question, you begin to realize these are significant matters.

Which brings you to a scary place. In theology, you are studying a subject matter which by nature you have to admit you can never truly comprehend or describe. In most other "ologies", the student sets about on a quest to master the topic. Geology is to discover everything there is to know about the earth, and most would agree that we have the human capability to explain or master our discoveries. With the study of God, however, we have to acknowledge up front that our understanding and ability can only take us so far. At some point, whether the topic is time, predestination, or free will, the student has to say, "I'm not sure. This is what the Bible says, this is what the Spirit has led me to believe, and the rest I'm just leaving in God's hands!"

Remarkable, isn't it, how much that sounds like faith itself? We seek to know God and follow him, but we admit from the beginning that complete knowledge of God and the ability to completely follow him is well beyond us. So, as earnest students, we can also conclude, "This is what the Bible says, this is how the Spirit has led me, and the rest is in His hands!" It's oddly comforting to worship a God that is beyond our comprehension. If we could comprehend him, we would try to control Him or bend Him to our purposes. As we grasp his infinite qualities and immeasurable traits, we can't help but put ourselves in His hands. Because we can't comprehend Him, we are left in a position where we must trust him. And that is worship- willingly placing our hopes, dreams, and very lives in the hands of a Master, Creator and Lord that will always be beyond our ability to fully know.

But that doesn't stop us from trying! And if we keep it in perspective, I believe there is something very healthy in that pursuit. In our quest, we seek not to conquer, master, and change, but to be conquered by His love, mastered by His grace, and changed by His Spirit.

Journey on, my friends.



Linda G. said...

You definitely have an eloquent way of writing, Nick!

I often told my Somerset EBS students while we studied Revelation...we can learn as much about God as He wants us to, and He's given us in Scripture as much as He wants us to know. We know He has our best interest in mind, and nothing will happen to us that He doesn't know about or isn't in control of. We are in Good Hands, even when we don't know what the future (day-to-day) holds. In life or death, we remain in His perfect care.

(2 of our Bible students there died last was 99 yrs. old. Since I began this group 2 years ago, several others have died or moved away. It becomes unsettling to those who are aren't as easily accepting of change).

Linda G.

Anonymous said...

CS Lewis addresses this issue in "Mere Christianity" and I found it quite interesting. Like you said, it may be a non-issue, but it is something to contemplate. It necessarily impacts how we view what God knows, how God sees us, how much He plans in advance, etc.