January 5 – Incomprehensible
In Genesis 1:26-28 we discover that human beings were created in God’s image, a concept that is deftly explained in this video by the Bible Project. But being in God’s image doesn’t mean we’re exactly like God; just looking at the first page of the Bible will tell you the God who spoke light into existence is very different from what we humans are. The things we share in common with God, things like creativity, relational capacity, and love, are God’s communicable attributes, ones that are communicated (read: given) to us. The things that are unique only to God, his omnipotence, self-sufficiency, and self-existence for instance, are his incommunicable attributes. By studying these we can grow in our knowledge of God, and as Jen Wilkin’s puts it in None Like Him, “to know him is to love him.”
This week we’re specifically focusing on God’s incomprehensibleness. By this we mean not that God is fully incomprehensible but that he is not fully comprehensible. While we can’t know everything about God, a pleasure only God himself enjoys, we can in fact know some things about God. And this is the kind of God we need and were meant for. If God could be fully knowable then we would exhaust his joys and riches. If God weren’t knowable at all we’d be without any hope. Instead, we have a God who knows us fully, loves us, and tells us about himself so that we can continually grow in our knowledge of him for all eternity.
This unknowability should rightly lead us to worship. That’s the tone of Paul in Romans 11:33-36, where he breaks into rapt praise over God’s unsearchableness and inscrutability. Paul quotes a common refrain from the Old Testament (you’ll find it in Job, Isaiah, and elsewhere), “Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” The question assumes the answer, “No one.” And this should bring us to praise, because this high and unreachable God graces us with his presence and with his mercy. Don’t miss the context of Paul’s little hymn to God’s mysterious nature, it comes at the end of his explanation on the mystery of salvation for Jews and Gentiles. This unknowable God puts impossibly complex plans into motion ultimately so that we can know him and spend the rest of eternity being shown “the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”(Eph.2:7)
Questions for Discussion
• Can someone read Genesis 1:26-27 for us?
• What do you think it means to be made in the image of God?
• What are some ways we’re like God and some ways we’re different?
• Let’s turn to Romans 11:33-36. Would someone read that for us?
• What stands out to you from this passage?
• This passage portrays God as not fully comprehendible by humans. What’s your reaction to that?
• Why do you think Paul praises God for his incomprehensibleness here?
• How can this passage guide the way we relate to an incomprehensible God?