May 23, 2021
This last year and a half has been a time of pandemic insomnia and consequent random musings.
For this news junkie, my musings have been informed by the pervasive questions of: “Where is God in the Midst of All This?” “Why, if we claim to believe in God, why don’t we take God seriously?” “Has God been reduced to a concept; God’s Word become a mere suggestion/self-help book?”
Lists have been compiled of the names for God and many are so proud of being able to rattle off that list; but how often do we really sit with the meaning of those names and attributes? They tend to seem more like we are conferring meaningless academic degrees on God, attributing a divine Meyers-Briggs designation or placement on an eneagram to the Maker of all that is.
God has become a concept to debate, a ‘being’ to manipulate’ for human purposes.
As a consequence, it’s easy not to take God seriously.
If we can define the Creator of all that is and feel comforted by our casual labeling, we can move on as though God only plays a peripheral role in our lives at best.
What if, instead of moving on, we hit pause and sit with one of those divine adjectives and begin getting serious about God?
During one of my sleepless nights, a divine adjective I started thinking about is ‘eternal’ as it defines God’s nature.
Thinking of God as ‘eternal’ is a comfort when things are a train wreck. We use that flattering word a lot when speaking of and praying to God!
But what does ‘eternal’ mean –and how will exploring that word change our perspective of and relationship with God?
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The short version of the definition of eternity is timeless. (A great article on eternity is found in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.).
‘Timelessness’ implies without beginning or end, which would mean there is no outer edge to God – no outline to God. Because God never began and will never end. God transcends time.
Think about that for a second…no really, ponder it – struggle with it – the ‘just the facts ma’am’ that got you through confirmation class no longer work.
Take the time to engage in your own random musings on this philosophical understanding of eternity and see where it takes you.
God is eternal – without past, present or future – outside of the construct of time – more than a concept – the source of all that is.
The implications of what eternal God means can’t help but take us to our knees in awe-filled incomprehension.
Incomprehension? Indeed! Who can honestly understand this truth in its entirety! I could much more easily explain the black holes in the universe – and I can’t begin to do that beyond parroting scientific jargon! But eternity is a truth that is God:
The Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end.
Yet, God chose to reach down into time over and over again throughout human history to teach humanity how to live the God life and how to love as God loves.
Humans are a bit hard headed so God pulled out all the stops: a family was rescued from a global flood, a child was born to a centenarian couple, a ragtag bunch of enslaved people were rescued from Egypt and became a powerful nation. God employed plagues, thunder, lightning, whirlwinds, still small voices.
These Self-revelations worked for a bit, but we humans get used to divine intervention so easily; truly a case of ‘familiarity breeds contempt!’
Contempt, in this case, is the dumbing down of God – the rationalizing of this Eternal One as no more than a giant human in the sky with limitations and foibles; God as a crutch, a security blanket, an entertaining theological topic for debate.
Oh, the things we do to keep from taking God seriously!
Love God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength? Love others as we love ourselves? Whatever…….
Love for Someone you cannot see is for the weak.
Unconditional love of others is for the unmotivated and unrealistic!
This is the real world!
Yep, the real world God created and has called us to participate in – if only we would take the Eternal One seriously!
Everyone struggles with the eternal reality of God and that’s a good thing!
Choosing not to question – not to struggle – doesn’t weaken our faith. God is up to the challenge; that’s what that whole seeking, asking, and knocking that Jesus talked about is referencing. Matthew 7:7
Speaking of Jesus……
God no longer was content to reach out to humans with bells and whistles. God entered into time as a human to live among us. Perhaps now we will see, hear, and believe!
Jesus, is the everlasting One.
Everlasting life has a beginning – Jesus’ earthly life began in Mary’s womb. God ‘humbled Himself and became man’ Philippians 2:8. God became self-limiting both in time and space – all for us. Jesus is the first born of the new creation Colossians 1:15, everlasting (which has a beginning yet no end) – yet at the same time preexistent with God ‘in the beginning’ John 1:2 and ‘eternal in the heavenlies’ now. Ephesians 2:8.
Everlasting. Another great word we bandy about and which unfortunately, in some translations of scripture, has become synonymous with eternal.
Eternal is outside of time. Everlasting has a beginning in time but has no ending.
It’s enough to make your head spin!
But what’s my point?
My point is: if we acknowledge the truth that God is eternal and Christ everlasting, why don’t we take this God who is beyond all knowing, and this Christ who came to give us a new beginning and life everlasting, seriously?
Why do we think that throwing God a devotional ‘bone’ for a few minutes every day or so, praying with a ‘monkey brain,’ showing up at worship when we have nothing else going on, doing a good deed every now and then, is enough?
No wonder the world is becoming atheist or at least agnostic! A concept of God is easily overridden. Suggestions for living are easily ignored.
I know I’m guilty of not taking God seriously enough; I can come up with all sorts of excuses ignore the inconvenient teachings of scripture. The thing is, my excuses contribute to the chaos in this world. Time to begin again
So, what if we sit with the adjectives of eternal and everlasting – how would our relationships with God and others be different? How would taking God seriously transform not only us but impact the world around us? When you think of the eternity of God in its true definition, how are you impacted by that reality in terms of your life?
I would love for you to share your thoughts in the comment section so we all can learn as we continue this journey together.
And to God be the glory! AMEN.