Sunday, June 3, 2007

The God Who Is

The Holy Trinity
First Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday, June 3, 2007
John 8:48-59

Do you think you’d have no trouble believing in God if you could see Him? Well, if you think that would make things easier, think again. There was no shortage of people who did not believe in the one true God even though they saw Him in the flesh. That’s because God is who He is on His terms, not according to our terms.

We look around at a world that is mostly non-Christian. Why doesn’t God show Himself in such a way where most people will believe in Him? We look around and see a lot of suffering and pain. Tragedies, sickness, evil. Why doesn’t the one true God do something about all of that? We look around and see people who think we’re pathetic for believing in something that can’t be proven and at times seems not to be very powerful. Wouldn’t it be great if we could know definitively that He does exist; that He is the true God; that we can know for sure?

The problem with all of this is that it’s not addressing the problem. It’s part of the problem, in fact. We’re seeking answers on our own terms. We’re wanting solutions according to what we think would be best. But God doesn’t answer our questions. He doesn’t address them because we’re seeking the wrong thing.

What He does is tell us something simple yet profound. And He does it in a way that would get a check mark from a grammar teacher. “Before Abraham was, I AM.” Now being God Jesus of course knew better. See, the point He was making was not that before Abraham was He was. He was telling those people who refused to believe in Him that He is in fact God.

And notice I didn’t say that He was telling them that He was God. Jesus is God. That’s why He said “I am.” The God who is is the God who is. The one true God is the God who always has been and always will be. When Jesus says, I am, that means He is—always. The one true God is the God who never had a beginning and will never have an end.

Descartes was right when he came to the conclusion “I think, therefore I am.” But the thing about Descartes is that he’s dead. When he was alive he indeed was. But he wasn’t always. With all due respect to John Lennon we can imagine all we want that there’s no heaven and no hell and no religion. Our imagination will land us in the hell we don’t believe in. By the way, John Lennon is dead too. And so are all those guys in the Gospel reading who didn’t believe in Jesus.

But Jesus isn’t dead. He is. He always has been. He always will be. He in an incomprehensible way is the true God in unity with the Father and the Holy Spirit. No wonder so many people don’t believe in the true God. They want God on their own terms. Imagine there’s no heaven and hell, that we can all just get along on our own. Imagine a god who puts an end to suffering and unfairness and evil. Imagine if God would only do what we want Him to do!

Well, it’s not going to happen. God wouldn’t be God if He were to stoop to our terms so that we could be appeased. God sticks to His terms because that’s the only way we have any hope. When Jesus says “I am the Good Shepherd” that means He always is the Good Shepherd, no matter what. When He says “I am the Door” that means He always is the way to eternal life. When He says “I am the Vine” that means He always is our only source for forgiveness, life, and salvation. When He says “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” that means He at all times is the way, the truth, and the life.

The people of God in the Old Testament had been under the heavy hand of slavery for four hundred years. You think they wondered about their God? You think they had second thoughts about His sovereignty, His love for them? When God told Moses to go to them with the good news that He would rescue them Moses scoffed at the idea. Who will I tell them sent me? God’s answer was “Tell them I AM has sent you.” Because the God who saved the Israelites from their slavery to Egypt is the God who has saved His people from slavery to sin.

The God who is is the God who is always for His people. When Jesus said “before Abraham was I am,” the people He said it to knew that He was claiming to be God. And when you’re God you make that claim—even if people don’t accept you on your terms. So that’s what Jesus has done. He has claimed that He is the one true God. Most people don’t believe it. At times we have our doubts about Him. But He remains God. He will always be God because He is and always has been.

The one true God is the God who has made Himself known to the world preeminently in the Son, Jesus Christ. He is the great I AM and is in perfect unity with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. He didn’t check with us first to see how He should make Himself known to us. Rather, He has told us who He is and that is that. He is who He is. And that just happens to be the only God. The true God. The one who though He doesn’t stoop down to our terms does stoop down to us to save us.

For the one true God is the one who though He is above man became man in order to save mankind from sin. The one true God is above all else the God of mercy and steadfast kindness. The triune God is the God who distinguishes Himself from all the false gods of all the other religions by humbling Himself to become as we are and suffer as we could never imagine.

All so that we may be with Him, the only true God, forever in heaven. Amen.


No comments: