I’ve had a chance to spend some time in nature this past week–a boat trip on a river, a walk down an isolated road in the northern hills of Thailand. I’m experiencing a part of the world I don’t normally get to see and I’ve been stunned by the beauty, the incredible diversity, and the creativity of what God has made. One morning I was particularly entranced by something and started taking pictures:
Even more amazing, these pictures are all of the same creature. Isn’t it incredible, all the different colors, textures, shapes that are parts of the whole? Hard, soft, smooth, hairy, wrinkly, dusty, wet, gray, pink, ivory, pointed, round, curved, squat, long.
What would it look like if we could focus on different parts of God? A few years ago I came across a list with names of God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit from the Bible.** All total, you can probably find a couple hundred words used to describe Him from almighty to wisdom. Each one gives a small snapshot, a glimpse of His astounding glory.
Sometimes I meditate on one or two because frankly reading through them all at once is overwhelming. It’s too much for my poor little brain to grasp. Even just one aspect, like God’s love, is difficult for me to fully understand. How can I ever comprehend how He knows me fully and yet still loves me completely? Thankfully, the multi-faceted, complex, ineffable** God stooped down and took on human form so we could see and touch and hear Him.
When the time came, He set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, He stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, He lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
That’s a picture of what love looks like. But that’s not where it ends. After zooming in on Jesus as human, Paul pulls back and looks at the big picture:
Because of that obedience, God lifted Him high and honored Him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that He is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father. [Phillipians 2:7-11, The Message]
The season of Advent is a good reminder that I need to keep both in view: Jesus humbled and Jesus exalted, the suffering servant and the Lord of lords, coming as a baby and coming again as the triumphant king. This is the wonder of who God is: simple and profound. O come, let us adore Him.
Names of God
ineffable: too great or extreme to be expressed or described in words