Saturday, February 23, 2013

The incredible God

Perhaps it is, as I have often thought, that people dismiss the very idea of God as incredible because it is claimed that He does impossible things, what we would call miracles and—of course—the idea of ‘miracle’ itself is inadmissible to the modern, scientific mind.

It is easy to dismiss a God who, it is claimed, creates the universe in six days, causes a universal flood that drowns all air-breathing life except for a few humans and animals in a paltry, primitive ark;

who, it is asserted, afflicted ancient empires with unidentifiable plagues to release a tribe of wayward ethnopaths, opened a passage through the waters of the sea for them to escape, kept them alive in a trackless waste with a mysterious airborne nutrient that tasted like whatever one wanted to eat;

who, not satisfied with creating a world and peopling it with predatory races, keeps coming in and out of history at intervals, speaking and acting by means of possibly deranged individuals who are taken to be prophets or even gods;

who, to crown all, is said to have entered the created order through a woman's womb and become one of His own creatures, yet not a creature, born as a man yet not as other men, who, it is believed, never sinned, never did an immoral deed, thought a sinful thought, or spoke a destructive word.

Yes, it is easy to dismiss such an incredible God, even when, it is recorded that as a man He was slain and rose again to life, and not just to ordinary life and to die again, but to a different kind of trans-mortal life, knowing no death, but a life which could not be lived on the planet as it is.

Yes, it is easy to dismiss this God, because nothing but nothing can be proved—scientifically; nothing verified through analysis; nothing counted, weighed, measured, because the whole story is a complete sham, a delusion, a pious fiction. Easy to dismiss a lie so obvious.

People are proud to not believe, to be indifferent, to prove they are too intelligent, sophisticated, judicious, wise to believe in the incredible God, and they think all the evidence is on their side.

But really, they dismiss the Only True and Living God for none of these reasons: That would be too easy, but they make it sound difficult, so they can be congratulated, adulated. What they want to avoid is looking bad, to themselves, and to others. What makes this God incredible to them is—that He forgives.

An early Church Father, Peter of Damascus, writes,
Even if you are not what you should be, you should not despair. It is bad enough that you have sinned; why in addition do you wrong God by regarding Him in your ignorance as powerless? Is He, who for your sake created the great universe that you behold, incapable of saving your soul? And if you say that this fact, as well as His incarnation, only makes your condemnation worse, then repent; and He will receive your repentance, as He accepted that of the prodigal son (Luke 15:20) and the prostitute (Luke 7:37-50). 
But if repentance is too much for you, and you sin out of habit even when you do not want to, show humility like the publican (Luke 18:13): that is enough to ensure your salvation. For he who sins without repenting, yet does not despair, must out of necessity regard himself as the lowest of creatures, and will not dare to judge or censure anyone. Rather, he will marvel at God’s compassion, and will be full of gratitude towards his Benefactor, and so may receive many other blessings as well.
No other god, or rather, no other human idea of God, is so incredible as this, ‘working wonders among His saints’—and these wonders are not primarily the supernatural miracles recorded in scriptures and even in secular histories, but the constant and effervescent miracles of unconditional, and ever-loving mercy with which He treats the sicknesses of mankind.

It is easy to dismiss a God who does what no one else does or can do, but hard to dismiss one who does what everyone can and should do—forgive, restore and love—not yesterday, far away, but now, here.

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