For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.–Isaiah 9:6
I’m excited to close out this 3 part series, the first one I’ve done for this podcast, with a reflection on who Jesus is, and why understanding that is so important to me. My mom gave me several books by renowned Christian author and philosopher Francis Schaeffer, and in the last year or so I started to go through them alongside some other works. One thing that stuck out to me was his use of the concept of “the infinite-personal God.” This was in contrast to, say, the pantheons of other religions like the Greek gods who may be personal in a sense that they are distinct and can communicate directly with people, but are most assuredly not infinite; or the ideas present in Eastern mysticism of losing one’s consciousness to a universal will present in all of nature. The God of the Bible, the God we worship, most assuredly has a universal will, yet He is separate from His creation. But even with that separation, He is also immanent–He is in direct communication with His creation. The god of deism who sets the world on its axis and wishes it well, the “blind watchmaker,” he is not personal. But we don’t worship that God. We worship the infinite-personal God, who is Trinity in unity:
God has communicated to man, not only about the cosmos and history, but also about Himself. And God’s attributes so communicated are meaningful to God, the author of the communication, as well as to man, the recipient of the communication. What God has revealed concerning His attributes is not only meaningful below the line of anthropology. The line of anthropology is not a brazen heaven, which cannot be penetrated, over our heads. The God who has spoken is not the unknowable infinite above the line. The God who has created man in His own image communicates true truth about Himself. Therefore, this need not be thought of as only an existential experience or contentless “religious ideas.” We have true knowledge, for as the Scriptures say so simply and overwhelmingly, when God wrote the Ten Commandments on stone, or when Jesus spoke to Paul on the Damascus road in the Hebrew language, they use a real language subject to grammars and lexicons, a language to be understood.–Francis Schaeffer, The God Who is There, 1968, p. 96
If there is one thing I have derived from these three sermons, it is this: Jesus Christ stands as the perfect image to us of that infinite-personal nature of God. He demonstrates His infinitude in His complete mastery over creation, and Scripture identifies Him consistently as Yahweh–as being “very God of very God.” Yet He condescends to become human, to lower Himself from His rightful position to take on the lowly form of a servant for the sake of His people:
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.–Philippians 2:5-11
As a man Jesus had family, He had friendships and led disciples down a difficult path that ended with what can only be described as both the darkest and brightest moment in human history. The incarnation of Jesus Christ is the perfect marker of the infinite-personal nature of God, and of the importance God sets upon creation. He does not set up a fantasy world where things don’t really matter, but He has created a world that He then entered into to achieve perfect unity with His people.
And in pondering this, in dreaming of a day in the future when this will be a reality and not just a far-off concept, I am compelled to worship God. I worship Him because He is God. He is the mighty Lord of all creation and the Maker of everything, and yet He is seeking after the lowly, the brokenhearted, those scarred with sin and in need of the healing hands of the Great Physician. And I worship Him because He has come to call me into that relationship. I long for the day that it is truly fulfilled. For now I taste my Lord’s goodness through His constant provision, through His Holy Spirit guiding me and changing me bit by bit, yet I also mourn the separation of being here and not fully with Christ.
And having said that, I want to briefly talk about a subject that is right up on us: thanksgiving. As of the time of this blog post we are a mere three days from what is most certainly one of the biggest family holidays of the year. But it has taken on a very odd tone: a holiday meant to commemorate God’s great provision for this country has taken on instead an air of pure consumption, both literally and metaphorically, as we prepare to make major purchases and flood retail stores staffed with bleary-eyed workers hoping to make it through the day without being trampled. As believers what I hope we would do on this day, is remember that we have everything because of God’s great grace to us, and His love for His people that leads Him to not sit far off, inaccessible to all, but to commune with His creation through the incarnation of His Son and the sending of His Spirit. Let us remember that truth, and pray our great thankfulness for this to His holy name.