The following post is a summary of the thoughts that went into my sermon on Wednesday 17 July for Evening Prayer at Grace Anglican Church.
Everybody tries to limit God – it’s how we try to understand him. Our attempts to do so independent of his revelation, however, tend to fall flat. Let’s look at four prominent examples from this evening’s scripture readings (1 Kings 20:1-25 and 1 John 1).
#1 The story of King Ahab of Israel and King Ben-Hadad of Syria
Mistaken limitation: King Ben-Hadad of Syria thought God was a mountain god, as if God is locally (and not globally) powerful. This error costs Ben-Hadad two major battles against King Ahab and the armies of Israel.
God’s true revelation: God demonstrated his might to King Ahab in battle in order to prove that He is the great I AM. He’s not just a local deity, he’s the lord of creation!
#2 Having a relationship (or fellowship) with God
Mistaken limitation: Some think they can have a relationship with God without the Church as if God is spiritual and has nothing to do with physical reality. Knowing and following God can be incorrectly viewed as a purely spiritual path.
God’s true revelation: God had real personal face-to-face fellowship with the Apostles; if we have true fellowship with God, we must have fellowship with them. You cannot be a Christian apart from the Church!
#3 God’s goodness and holiness
Mistaken limitation: Some think God is “beyond” good and evil (1:6,8) as if God is only about knowledge and life, and not also goodness and justice.
God’s true revelation: God does define good & evil, righteousness & sin; we don’t. And we must admit, we miss the mark. If we are going to call ourselves Christians and claim fellowship with God, we must strive to live accordingly.
#4 God’s work against sin in our lives
Mistaken limitation: Some think forgiveness from sin is only in the past as if God is no longer working on our souls. Once we’re baptized and/or come to Christ, everything’s just peachy!
God’s true revelation: God does work dynamically in our lives, growing us through time. None of us are without sin in this life, and so the Christian life of fellowship with God must continually include the confession of our sins and repentance toward our Savior.
Let God “limit” himself.
We don’t need to impose our own limitations upon the Almighty, and put God into a box of our own making; he has already provided us with precisely the “box” that we need in order to understand him: Jesus of Nazareth. In him, the “fullness of God was pleased to dwell” thus making the impossibly omnipotent & omnipresent & omniscient God perfectly knowable to the human mind. Let us content ourselves with Jesus, the perfect image of the Father. He is sufficient for us; turn to him.