It is a matter of faith to recognize that God is great beyond anything that can be imagined. The lack of faith does not diminish God’s greatness. It only diminishes the world’s value and its meaning. Yet we human beings have suffered from the deadly sin of pride from the very beginning. We also suffer from things like short memories, and the sometimes overwhelming need for immediate gratification. We have been given the gift of rationality, but like all gifts, we can use it for that which is really good, or we can use it to justify, or to “rationalize” our selfish intentions and desires. All of Job’s friends rationalize Job’s guilt and God’s role in Job’s suffering, yet Job remains faithful to God. Though he has his moment of frustration, he repents it, and his faith in God is affirmed and rewarded.
One of Job’s friends, Zophar, actually utters a truth in his first speech to Job when he asks, “Can you discover the depths of God? Can you discover the limits of the Almighty?” Therein lies the truth. God is great and the fullness of his being is far beyond the reach of our human powers of reason. We can discover neither the depth, nor the limits of God by either scientific investigation, or by the complex searchings of philosophy. We can only begin to approach God through the gift of faith. God is too great to be “captured,” or denied by human reason alone.
But this hasn’t stopped human beings from believing that they can either control, or deny the existence of God on the strength of their own intellects and wills. Our time has been shaped by three 19th century thinkers: the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, Charles Darwin, and Sigmund Freud. Nietzsche is famously quoted as saying that “God is dead.” He was not arguing the literal death of God, rather, he looked around at the behaviors of many around him and observed that modern man no longer acted out of a reliance on religion as a moral guide and source of meaning. He observed that things like science, economics, philosophy, and psychology were replacing religion as the sources of meaning and moral guidance. Sound familiar? Another 19th century thinker, Sigmund Freud, argued that God was an “illusion, based on an infantile need for a powerful father figure,” and that religion was necessary “to restrain our violent impulses earlier in the development of civilization,” but could now be “put aside in favor of reason and science.” Darwin’s theories on evolution based on his scientific observations, were often interpreted as replacing God’s role in creation. Their thinking has given rise to the philosophies and realities of our own time, such things as: absolute individualism, relativism, seemingly endless wars, abortion, and the excesses of the so-called “sexual revolution,” political correctness, and identity politics.
Human reason, as a gift from God, is a powerful and glorious thing, but it can also be a great danger. On its own, without the constraints of humility, or the fear of the Lord that leads to wisdom, it can, more often than not, lead us into the dark woods of pride and all the other deadly sins. In faith, we can begin to understand that God’s depths are greater than we can imagine with all of our vaunted powers of reason. We can begin to see that without God we are nothing, but with God all things good, true, and beautiful, are possible. We just begin to recognize God’s depth in his infinite, unconditional love for us in Jesus. To contemplate the depth and depravity of all of humanity’s sins toward one another throughout all of human history, indeed, even our own sins, and then to be confronted with the depth of God’s love that is so great that he could willingly enter into our very own humanity and take the weight of all of that sin upon himself, and wash it away by emptying himself completely on the cross, is only to begin to realize the depth and the limitlessness of God.
Lord, grace us with the humility to know that we are nothing without you. Give us a faith profound enough to know that you are both beyond our ability to contemplate, and at the same time, more intimate with each one of us than we can imagine. Your greatness cannot be fathomed, yet you make yourself small enough to dwell within the temple of our own small hearts. This is greatness, indeed. In the Jesus’ name we pray. Amen!
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