in heaven, the fine point of Both and…

The otherness of God

Yesterday we pondered God as “Father” an intimate and relational term for God. Today we follow that with “in heaven” a phrase that puts a bit of space between us and God. God is God we are not. This basic and perhaps very obvious fact is often lost on us. We like a god that is at our beck and call, one that likes the same things and people we like, says things we agree with, and generally doesn’t demand too much of us that we are not already willing to do. But this God is “in heaven” in heaven implies distance, otherness, mystery. A fancy word for this is transcendence (had to use the spell check on that one!) basically it means a going beyond; God is beyond us, apart from. So in this prayer we pray in a relational way to one who is beyond us?

In Christ God has come to us, though God in his fullness is beyond us, God chooses to come to us and become known. In this he is not beholden to us, but rather reaches out to establish a relationship rooted in love. God is not some prime-mover who set things in motion and now sits back and watches what happens to us like a bad sit-com. God comes that we might have life, and for that to happen God chooses to get God’s hands dirty. In Christ God comes and mucks about as one of us, the one who is all things chooses to identify with us, his creation and reaches out in love. No one is excluded from this love except those who exclude themselves. Maybe we have grown so accustomed the Abba Daddy image of God that we risk losing what a big deal it is that this God, amazing, mysterious and Omni everything has chosen to relate to us. Lutherans love to keep things both and… we are both sinner and saint, the kingdom is already and not yet and God is both an immanent Daddy and transcendent Awesome Creator of everything, to be feared and worshiped.

In this balance we have a God who loves us and yet pushes to move beyond who we are now to become what we already are in Jesus Christ.

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