Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Catching the Hem

You don't get to talk theology with my friend Ben at the moment and not hear something about the glory of God. This is what is all about and Ben will happily tell you so, with a laugh and lot of gesturing.

When we were kids we had to memorize stuff from the Shorter Catechism for Sunday School, a requirement which I didn't exactly warm to. After one Sunday School exam I asked my father, who as pastor was deemed the authority and therefore appointed chief executioner, why he had insisted on asking me so many questions when I so clearly didn't know any of the answers. His response was that he thought I would, surely, get one right eventually. He had overestimated my commitment to the Catechism. But there was one question I would have gotten right had he asked me. One Catechism (is that how the individual question/answer couplets are referred to?) I have never forgotten because it is so short and has a kind of rhythm to it. And it is probably as important as it gets. Which makes it nice that I remember it.

"What is man's chief end?"

What is the meaning of life? I remember having a conversation with a friend a while back who was staggered that "the Church" had formulated an answer to that eternal question. It is quite remarkable when you think of it. Particularly when you bear in mind that what they came up with is so short...and has a kind of rhythm to it...

"Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever."

Ben is bringing everything back to this idea of giving God glory at the minute and as we sat and had coffee this evening he did so again, commenting on John Piper's suggestion that we switch the wording up a little bit so that it reads - "to glorify God BY enjoying him forever." We talked about that for a bit and we talked about the Church for a bit and we talked about philosophy and faith and scepticism and confession and religion and Nobel prizes and Brian McLaren and the Pope and nuclear war and worship and doubt and the Bible and Star Wars...for a little bit.

One thought struck us both as being pretty cool about this whole notion of our lives giving glory to God...

What glory it gives to God that he can change your world, turning it inside out and spinning it upside down, with the merest of glimpses at who he is. The blurry snapshot that is the best we are capable of catching or comprehending.

In 1 Corinthians Paul writes, "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face." What we see is not even close to what is. All is dim. We can make out the shape but not the detail. We get the idea but not the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We are watching on scratchy, black and white VHS not blu ray with surround sound.

But God is such that even in the gloom of our comprehension, he transforms. The tiny fraction that we are able to understand is life changing. What that says about the magnitude of the majesty of God demands glory beyond our wildest imagingings.

He makes all things new even though touching the hem of his garment is the best that we can do.

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