We have been talking the last few weeks about the subject of balance in our faith. We talked last week about the balance between the inward and outward journey of our faith, and before that about the balance between “head” faith and “heart” faith, as well as the balance between predestination and free will. This week I want to talk about the balance or tension we live in between a God who we can know intimately, and the God who is bigger than we can grasp.
Many of the well-known hymns that come from our childhood are songs about the “knowability (made up word)” of God: “He walks with me and talks with me” are words from In the Garden. Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus is another hymn like this. In the Bible, characters like Moses, Abraham, Elijah, and David speak directly to God, and have God’s ear more than others. A popular phrase in describing the beginning of faith is to “Let Jesus into your heart.” What can be more personal and knowable than that?”
But we have to also balance that with Scripture references to God’s “unknowability” (even more made up), like these words Job offers to God after God reminds Job of his power and work in the world: “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” Or these words of David in Psalm 139: “In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed. How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!” And we have songs like A Mighty Fortress Is our God and Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence which point to God’s vastness and mystery.
So which is it? Is God intimately knowable or mysteriously un-knowable? The answer is both, but in balance. God is knowable, and he does walk with us and talk with us, but he is not our imaginary friend, who we can make up to be whoever we want to be. He requires reverence.
God is also unknowable, a Being beyond our human understanding and grasp, but God is not an impersonal God, impervious to our condition. God is connected to us in our time and place.
And so as we find the balance between God’s intimacy and God’s grandeur, it is important that we not put God in one box or the other, for our faith claims that God has the power to address the struggles and concerns of our lives, but also knows us enough to cry with us, celebrate with us, and be a companion for our Spiritual journey.
I hope that worship is especially meaningful for you today.