Archive for December 2009

Grasping the Ungraspable

Christmas is crazy. I’m not necessarily referring to the hustle and bustle of the season. Not to mention the overspending. Who can understand the frenzy at Wal-Mart to get a cruddy DVD player? Why all the hype? Does the holiday music really have to start filling the stores around the end of October?

These insanities are not why I think Christmas is crazy however. My thoughts are of the theological nature. The Word of God is full of absurdities.

The first and foremost one is that God would become a baby. Please don’t miss the magnitude of this: God and Baby. Big and Little. Powerful and Weak. Go figure. How is it possible to have the fullness of the Godhead reduced down into an 8 pound 10 ounce bundle of energy? It’s similar to the task of putting a nuclear power plant into a thimble!

In the end we are grasping the ungraspable and that might be just how God wants it.

In Ephesians 3:19 the reader can find two tension-filled concepts that emphasize the absurdity of the Gospel. In Paul’s prayer he asks that Christ might dwell in our hearts and that we might be able to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. This prayer seems simple enough. It’s the desire of earnest, growing believers to have Jesus be at home within our hearts. And we most certainly want to have the love of Christ flowing in and through us.

But then it gets weird. Paul goes postal and the Bible gets bizarre. It’s says, catch this: “and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

How does one know what can’t be known? The love of God surpasses knowledge according to this passage. So how can we know it then? It’s like roping the wind or catching a sunbeam or defying gravity. Doesn’t this sound absurd? But wait, there’s more…

Try comprehending how we as humans can be filled with all the fullness of God. Finite simply cannot contain the infinite. Right? That goes back to the whole nuclear power plant/thimble scenario! I can understand how we could have a part or portion of God fill us up. In Exodus 33, Moses was allowed to see only God’s back side because if he saw the magnitude of God’s being then he would not live. The fullness of God’s presence is simply more than we can handle. And yet Paul has the audacity to pray for us to be filled with the full measure of God! Can we really handle it?

I’m convinced that God thrives on this craziness. He loves the tension and the absurdity because it fuels the mystery and feeds our faith (or lack thereof). Just when we think we’ve got God all figured out we unwrap another layer of his complexity. That’s what makes Christmas so ‘wonder full’ – the knowing what can’t be known – the being filled with someone so much bigger than ourselves.

This is grasping the ungraspable and that might be just how God wants it to be.

Merry Christmas you and yours.

John