“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or think according to the power that is at work among us . . .” (Ephesians 3:20). What are we supposed to do with passages like this one? Texts like this are found throughout Ephesians. There’s 5:1 where we’re told to be “imitators of God.” (Does Paul know who he’s speaking to—then or now?) And how about later on in the same chapter where he quotes the Genesis 2 text about a man leaving his father and mother and becoming one with his wife—and then he applies it to Christ and the church and refers to it as a “profound mystery” (v. 32). And we haven’t even touched on where he speaks of the church bearing witness to “rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms” (3:10) or where he speaks of the church being “the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way” (1:23).
Again—what are we to do with these texts? The question isn’t just rhetorical, it’s practical. We can (and should) exegete them in an effort to understand them to the best of our ability. But these passages belong in a different category than most of what we find in the biblical witness. They are texts that more or less tell us that we’re being told things that are beyond our understanding. As the psalmist says, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; too lofty for me to attain” (139:6).
And that’s the point.
Much of what’s found in the Bible is quantifiable information. We can dissect it, analyze, and classify it to the profit of ourselves and others. There’s something healthy about knowing the context of Habakkuk or the difference between the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day. And we’re richly blessed by the people who aid us in these areas.
But there’s also a danger. And that is that if we mistakenly assume that because some of the biblical witness is quantifiable, all of it is. And we reduce the great transcendent truths of Scripture to factoids. Pretty soon, if we’re not careful we reduce the Almighty One into something we can dissect, analyze, and classify. There becomes no question about Him we cannot answer.
The truth is, if we think we know everything about God we don’t know anything about God. While it’s true that He has disclosed Himself to us through Jesus (John 1:18), it’s also true that when painting a picture of God—we don’t have anywhere near enough colors or canvas to fully capture the Almighty One (Romans 11:33-36).
But that’s okay.
When we look at the Grand Canyon, the Aurora Borealis, or some other wonder, are we satisfied to flatten them out to a series of statements regarding their physical properties? Of course not! We view these things with the awe and amazement they call for.
We won’t apologize for any of the truth that we know (why should we?), but we’ll also recognize that not all truth calls for a learning response. Some truths (such as the ones mentioned at the beginning of this piece) are accepted more than they are understood. The point of them isn’t to be broken down into a series of propositions in an attempt to explain it; it is simply to be received with wonder and awe. For we’re not just disciples (learners), we’re children disciples who must never lose the ability to marvel at the mystery and majesty of our Father.
I listened to a talk show where the host was singing the praises of a certain celebrity. A woman called into the show to state her agreement citing the fact that the celebrity had visited her mother’s restaurant and she had relayed to her daughter how nice they were. It may very well be true that the celebrity is a nice person–but I have my doubts that you could determine this basis of a limited interaction during such a brief period of time. I would expect to hear a more qualified conclusion like, “They made a favorable impression” (or words to that effect) rather than a definitive conclusion that suggests they were an authority on the subject.
We have to be oh-so-careful that we don’t approach God as though we are an authority on the subject. We know some super solid things about our Father since He has revealed them to us through Christ (John 1:18 and other texts), but no matter how far down the road we think we’ve come, there is still so much we don’t know and understand. It’s healthy to keep that in mind and not close ourselves to the wonder and mystery of God.
If you can still be amazed, it means you are still alive.