“If God is beyond understanding, why try?”
Today’s question comes neither from a reader, the internet, nor my own musings. This question is a paraphrase of one asked rhetorically by Cyril of Jerusalem (310-386). Cyril was a church leader and expounder of orthodoxy. His Catechetical Lectures are an insightful and articulate commentary on Christian doctrine.
Cyril asks, “If the divine essence is beyond our understanding, why do you even bother to talk about these things?” He responds with three indisputable analogies:
“Because I can’t drink up the whole river, can’t I take what brings me blessing? Just because, with eyes made like mine, my sight can’t suck up the whole sun, can’t I even look on it enough to meet my needs? Just because I’ve gone into a bountiful garden and can’t gorge myself on its whole volume of fruits, do you want me to go away utterly hungry?”
Or we might pose this question yet another way: “Because our God is infinite in greatness and glory and therefore worthy of infinite praise, why should we attempt to praise Him at all?”
There is an obvious ludicrosity in such a statement! In the last of the psalms the psalmist writes, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” (Ps. 150:6). The psalm opens and closes with the words “Praise the Lord,” in the Hebrew the phrase is equally familiar, “Hallelu Yah” — Hallelujah!
Do you cheer your home team win, or do you keep silent because enough other fans are cheering? Do you stop buying groceries because you cannot eat the whole stock of the supermarket? Do you decide not to breathe because your lungs are too small to inhale the whole of the planet’s supply?
Paul scribes in doxology,
“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them? For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things…” (Rom. 11:33-36a).
And what does Paul conclude after stating such divine vastness? “To Him be the glory forever! Amen.” (Rom. 11:36b). In giving God praise and in seeking out the depths of His being we, as well as He, are edified.
If God is beyond understanding, why try? Because we were created and commanded to do it. Because He is our Bread and Living Water; taking Him into our being again and again is our life! Taking Him in in mind and soul… taking Him in and spilling Him out… streams of living water! It is our privilege, our duty, our chief joy!
Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.