By Rick Lewers

Complex does not mean unknowable

eclipse
12 October 1996: Western Poland.
Watching the eclipse through smoked glass

I WAS TOLD the story once of an Emperor who asked a Jewish Rabbi to show him his God. The Rabbi said he could not do that, to which the Pharaoh replied, "Why not? We have lots of gods in this kingdom and you can see them: that idol there and another over there. What good is a god you can't see? How can you possibly believe or understand a god if you can't look at him?"

The Rabbi asked the Emperor to follow him. He took him outside and told him to look at the sun.

The Pharaoh replied by saying he could not do that. "You can't look at the sun: it is too bright; it is too great to behold – it will blind me."

The Rabbi replied, "If you can't set your eyes on the glory of the creation, then how could you possibly be able to set your eyes on its Creator?"

Does the illustration suggest that God is unknowable? Not at all! I don't know everything about electricity, with its ACs and DCs , its watts and nanowatts, but I know something about it. The part I do know is sufficient to have me relate safely with it. And my guess is that when we ask "What is God like?" the response is the same.

Not knowing everything about God does not mean that we can't know something about God. And the part made known to us is sufficient to have us relate rightly with Him.

So what is God like? The Bible presents us with the truth that there is only one God. That oneness becomes a little complex as the Bible introduces us to three persons who are equally God but at the same time one. That sounds complicated, but we adopt some of this complexity when speaking of marriage: two people entering into a 'one flesh' union – no longer two but one and let no man tear asunder. Marriage I know can be a bit of a mystery, but if you have a good marriage then you know what a blessing the mystery of two becoming one can be. Of course no illustration, even that of a marriage, can properly describe the triune nature of God. God is one, but He manifests within Himself the diversity of relationship shared between three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Complex? Yes, and many a page has been written on a complexity that I am not sure we will ever fully understand. To quote the Rabbi: "If you can't set your eyes on the glory of the creation, then how could you possibly be able to set your eyes on its Creator?"

Thankfully, the complexity does not suggest that God is unknowable. In fact, quite the opposite. It presents God as: Father ready to adopt us as His children; Son willing to save us from our sins; and Holy Spirit able to give new life and bring us wisdom, comfort and support through life's journey.

This is where the complex brings us to the remarkable. One God, three persons and all three persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit: the one true God – have committed themselves to our salvation.

The New Testament has numerous prayers, but one that I really like is brief and contains a Christian's hope for others: "May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all."

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