Monday, March 12, 2012

Captivated by God’s glory

I’m currently reading a book by one of my seminary professors, J. Todd Billings, called The Word of God for the People of God.  It is a book that I’m enjoying quite a lot and I’ll post a review to my blog when I finish it.

One of the things that Billings discusses is that in our reading of scripture we make must make certain theological decisions.  We may consider certain things deliberately and make a conscious choice or we may make our choices through less deliberate and intentional processes, but we make them nonetheless. 

One of these decisions that must be made has to do with how we believe that God is made known in the world.  Billings claims that our options are either that God is revealed in a universal way that is accessible to all people or that God is made known through his particular action in ancient Israel and Jesus Christ. (75)

In the discussion that explains the either/or decision of our knowledge of God he wrote something that just jumped off the page and grabbed me.

“As Jonathan Edwards elegantly argues, if you claim to know God but you are not drawn to worship and delight in God’s beauty, then you know that you have not encountered God.”(79)

I think that what Billings is claiming here, by way of Jonathan Edwards, is that when we have truly encountered God, the living God whom the Bible teaches spoke creation into being, we will be drawn to him above all things.  The strongest of our desires, the deepest of our yearnings, will be those that seek to know God, to love God, and to praise God. 

The idea that I should be “drawn to worship and delight in God’s beauty” both excites and convicts me.  I do love God deeply but I don’t think that it always comes out so well in the time I spend with other people.  My passion for God is sometimes a ways under the surface, rather than shining like a light on a hill

When I went out to run this morning the roads were wet from some rain last night.  The sky was overcast and while some people may have found it to be a bit dreary I thought that there was a certain beauty present, particularly as winter is giving way to spring.

When I turned to come home, facing east, the clouds began to break and the sun came out.  The sun shone brightly in the sky and it also reflected bright light off of the wet pavement.  I quickly found myself wishing I had my sunglasses.  And I also found myself pondering God’s glory.

If we look into the sun we will soon find that it is overpowering to our eyes.  Very quickly, in a matter of seconds, we must turn our eyes away.  God’s glory is something that is brighter than any amount of sunlight, but it is a brightness that I am certain we will not only seek but delight in when that time comes when we are eternally in the very presence of God in heaven.  His glory is something that we will never want to turn away from. 

Sometimes I take things in, and retain them better, through music.  First melodies, and then the lyrics, embed themselves in my mind, where they just keep on “playing.”  I don’t run with a radio or headphones but often find a song repeating itself over and over and over as I take step after step. 

Here is a link to what I think is a particularly beautiful version of Be Thou My Vision, an old and wonderful song which came to mind as I ran this morning.  It paints a picture of the claim of Jonathan Edwards, that in our encounter with God we are captivated by his beauty and glory, joyfully seeking and loving him before all things.

May the desire for God be our deepest and strongest desire, and may it grow each and every day. 

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