God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. – 1 John 4:9
This verse immediately makes me think about the seemingly untenable dichotomy (or, well, trichotomy?) of a tripartite God. People wonder, I wonder, how can God have a son? How can God be the son and the father at the same time? How can God be this other, to me more mysterious thing, the Holy Spirit? How can He be all three, and still be each one fully and distinctly?! And even more basic, what is He? My human brain just can’t wrap around that.
And that’s the key, right there. Put most simply, Isaiah 55:9 lays it out in one sentence, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” The arrogance of man tends to crack me up. “If I can’t see it, if I don’t think it can possibly be, if it just can’t be made to make sense to me, it simply cannot be.” Said the infinitesimally small creature about the infinite Creator.
A long time ago I came to gladly accept the fact that the human mind just doesn’t, and probably can’t, get it all. What follows is just me riffing. I’m not saying this is how it is, it’s just the kind of thought exercise I take from time to time to try to keep my mind loose (yeah, I know, some of you will say my mind is already a little too loose…).
How can God be three separate things but still be one thing? Maybe He exists in enough dimensions that that’s how it would have to look. Maybe when you’re infinite you can determine the division and presentation of things. Or, slightly differently, maybe if you’re infinite, the local, commonly experienced, rules of boundaries don’t apply.
Throw a ball into the water. The ball is a ball. It is also moving. It is also wet. That’s how we experience it. If I was a multi-dimensional creature who moved relative to all thrown balls, I wouldn’t experience the ball the same way as a human. The ball would be dry, and then it would be wet, and it would be a ball. But because of my relative motion to all thrown balls, I wouldn’t see the motion. If I was a creature that couldn’t perceive balls, I still might perceive the motion and this suddenly appearing spherical void in the water.
Of course, these analogies break down quickly, but like I said, it’s just a mental exercise. The point is, we experience things the way we do because that’s how we’re made. Our experience of something in no way defines or limits that thing’s true nature. And I think it’s literally small-minded to believe our ability to experience and understand things sets the limits on how things can really be.
I could go on and on with this. And this is all totally tangential from the real point of the verse, that God the Father (what is that?!) sent God the Son (how can he be God and human?!) to make a way for us to have eternal life (what can that even be?!). That Bible, I tell ya. Always gives you something to think about…
- Remember these things on this Memorial Day
- Blessed anyway.