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Thoughts From Dr. David Strain

Dear friends,

Today I wanted to send out a thought that was passed on to me as a word of comfort for these times. It is a devotional entry by Dr. David Strain entitled, "God Is Infinite." Hard as it is for finite people to grasp the infinite nature of God as presented in the Bible, in times like this there is little we could benefit from more. Reading what he has to say will be worth your time. Some points are corrective, but they are corrective for the purpose of restoring to us the hope and help we gain from adhering to a correct understanding of who God is. May his words be a helpful reminder of the truth we need to lean upon in these times. Enjoy.

GOD IS INFINITE

"The distinction between the Creator and the creature lies at the base of all good theology (all that is true about God). The temptation to remake God in our own image, to make ourselves bigger and God smaller, is constant and real. "Finitum non capax infinitum" (the finite cannot comprehend the infinite) is a rule we'd all rather forget. The desire to understand "why" when inscrutable providence brings suffering; the impatience we feel toward profundity in the discussion of doctrine ("Yes, that's all very well. But I need something practical!"); the overwhelming anxiety that comes in the wake of the conviction that we ought to be in control but we aren't -- these are but expressions of the creature's desire to collapse the Creator/creature distinction. We want to comprehend the infinite.
What we have not realized is that far from leaving us with the restless perplexity of unanswered questions when pain and sorrow strike, knowing that God is infinite allows us to rest. It reminds us that while we can be caught off guard by sudden unforeseen tragedy, and our limited resources can be overwhelmed as we attempt to cope, God is not so limited. The good news is: God is not like us! The limitations of creatureliness do not exist in Him. While we may never get our answer to our "why" questions when suffering comes, we can rest in the wise ordering of a God who knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:8-11), and for whom there can be no crisis beyond His ability to resolve.
Far from bringing impracticality, the truth (doctrine) of God's infinity brings comfort and confidence to fear-filled hearts. It says to the control freak: "You need to learn that you are not God. You are not enough for the challenges of life, finite as you are. But I am the infinite God whose greatness is unsearchable (Psalm 145:3). Only I am enough!" It reminds the anxiety-riddled introvert: "You are right to feel your limits so keenly. But you are wrong to think you should be up to the tasks set before you. You were meant to live depending on me. Only I am enough! My grace is sufficient for you, and My grace is made perfect in weakness. (II Corinth. 12:9). There is no boundary to God's being, power, or wisdom. He has no edges. All that He is is infinite. As Solomon prayed at the dedication of the temple: "Will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!" (I Kings 8:27).
The wonder of the Gospel is that in Christ, the infinite Son of God, the second person of the blessed Trinity, was united to a human nature -- to creatureliness. Without ceasing to be infinite, He entered into our finitude. Without divesting Himself of limitlessness, He embraced limits. Without ceasing to be God, He became man. This He did in love for sinners against infinite holiness, the enormity of whose guilt is therefore infinite. Only an infinite person, with a finite human nature, could pay infinite debts in the place of finite creatures."


I once wrestled intensely with that same Creator/creature distinction in relation to the infinite immensity of God and the seemingly finite insignificance of people by comparison. It came to a head the first time I flew on a plane in my teens and looked down from 30,000 feet to see a stadium filled with 60,000 people or so that was as small as a dime, with people smaller than minute specks of dust. "How could God possibly even care, let alone know the struggles of each one of those people? I can barely see them..."

Yet it was in wrestling this through in my mind that I realized I had inadvertently straight-jacketed God with my own finite creatureliness! I was looking down, locked in a place far above the earth, but God is not like me! He fills all time and space! He is not limited (like me) to being restricted to any one place. In fact, the reason He can intimately care for us is precisely because He is so infinite! My difficulty came about because I had impressed upon God things that were true of humans, and shackled Him (in my mind) with the feeble limitations of my own humanity.
Which brings us back to what the author of our thought is saying. The smaller we make God the more we will struggle to think He could ever possibly know or care. Yet the reality is that it's His immense and limitless transcendence that actually makes His imminent intimacy possible! He is not so great that He cannot care, His greatness is what enables Him to be so incomprehensibly caring -- present in every place, seeing every struggle, reading every heart, and knowing every need before we even ask (Matthew 6:8). Correctly understood (as Strain points out above) it's His infinite greatness in being, love, wisdom, knowledge and power, that makes His intimate loving care possible. Which means that to shrink God down in size is to nothing but our own detriment -- and the abuse of His splendor and glory.

Living in His All-sufficient Grace, Pastor Jeff

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