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I have the privilege of being in the rotation to teach Sunday school to first through third graders at my church, which is a rewarding, hilarious, sanctifying experience. Once when I was explaining a Bible passage we were exploring, one of my students raised his hand eagerly. I called on him, encouraged by his enthusiasm.
“Um, my neighbor’s cat got run over. He kinda looks like this now…” He imitated the mangled cat’s new form. His friend was not to be outdone and offered a similar story, complete with corresponding visual aid. I chuckled and responded, probably with something along the lines of “wow…”, and then tried unsuccessfully to regain control of my class.
You’ll have that now and then.
Our schedule runs concurrently with the public school year. One September, as we returned to Genesis and the very familiar creation account, I marveled at how many details the young scholars could supply that weren’t even in our curriculum. They were chirpy and engaged.
Then a girl said, “Before God did all that, He was just hanging around in heaven by Himself.”
I thought, then replied, “Before He created, there was no heaven. Look at Genesis 1:1 again. Heaven was created; it didn’t always exist.”
“Then…. where…. was…. He??”
“Everything that is not God was created, so there wasn’t anywhere for Him to be. Before creation, there was only God.”
Her eyes narrowed. “So, was He just swimming around…?”
“He doesn’t have a body because He’s spirit, so He doesn’t swim. And there was no ‘around’ to swim in.”
Her eyes lit up and she, along with everyone else in the room, started asking rapid-fire questions about how this could be. We talked about how we as creatures can’t really understand anything that exists apart from our environment of time, space, and matter because it’s all we have experienced; they learned the words “transcendence” and “aseity,” excitedly trying to make sense of the incomprehensible God.
“Mrs. Huerta, I feel like my head’s gonna explode!” my little friend said delightedly.
“Good! That means you’re starting to get it.” I thought my heart might explode along with her head.
Then came what will remain until heaven one of my most beloved memories.
“God is HUGE!!”
“He’s amazing! There’s nobody else like Him!”
All around the room, each student was lost in spontaneous praise of YHWH, the God who depends on nothing and no one, who just is. When they reached the limit of their ability to comprehend Him, they forgot themselves and worshiped the thrice-holy God of the universe.
Have you ever tried to comprehend the unspeakable majesty of God’s glory in the Trinity, or the Incarnation, or His aseity, only to erupt in adoration? Are you interested in these aspects of His being? When you see the Scriptural command to worship God in spirit and in truth, what comes to mind? How well are you obeying that command?
After spending eleven chapters of Romans explaining the riches of the gospel, Paul certainly couldn’t hold back his effusive worship of the Lord:
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
One of the great wonders of our God, to be sure, is the fact that He condescends to relate to us! He is near to His people. We love this about Him, and well we should. But much of American theology emphasizes this fact to the exclusion of teaching the profound reality of God as holy—wholly other than we are. The resultant product is an anemic god with anemic followers exercising anemic worship, and we wonder why the church isn’t all it should be (Psalm 135:18).
The ill effects on us are the byproduct of sub-biblical worship. But the greatest issue at stake is the diminishing of the glory due to our Lord. From Him, through Him, and to Him are all things. We owe Him who is supremely worthy of our unbridled worship and adoration for all that He is and does, and we owe Him for His own sake, apart from any good we may receive from our worship of Him.
You can’t worship Someone you don’t know, and knowing involves serious effort. But, oh, Christian, that effort is so worth it! You will be blessed if you seek His glory first. He promised you would (Matthew 6:33). The bottom line, though, is that literally everything is about Him, not about us.
My students, like Paul on the road to Damascus, encountered Yahweh and were never the same. How could they possibly be? The day I described happened a few years ago, and they still mention it (I think the words “totally awesome” were involved the last time).
My prayer is that God would use my words to create a similar delight for Him in you. May He whet your appetite to know Him more and bring ever more glory to His precious name!