Friday, April 21, 2006

God::Indivisible

Out of all the things we could spend time doing, says A.W. Tozer in The Knowledge of the Holy, seeing and loving our Creator makes us seem "less in [our] own sight." It fills us with reverence and awe, with fear of the LORD, with humility, and with love for our brothers and sisters. We decrease, and He increases. I don't know about you, but I know that's what I need.

So after an introduction and a warning, we begin to study the attributes of God--defined by Tozer as "whatever God has in any way revealed as being true of Himself." Before delving into familiar descriptions like "love," "justice," "infinity" or "omnipotence," Tozer offers one more preface of sorts: God is indivisible.

He explains that humans are "the sum of [their] parts." Think of how you would describe your own character, or the character of someone you know well. Isn't character, as Tozer says, "the sum of the traits that compose it"? People have varying degrees of several character traits--and in certain situations or in certain stages of life, they may display more or less of each trait. At times I may be quite selfless and generous; at other times I might be a whole lot more grudging and unwilling to give. At times, when I interact with someone, kindness and grace triumph over anger; but when I interact with someone else (or, when I interact with the very same person at another time!) anger dominates over kindness. My character is unstable. It varies.

Not so with God, Tozer explains:

[God's] substance is indivisible. He has no parts but is single in His unitary being. ...The harmony of His being is the result not of a perfect balance of parts but of the absence of parts. Between His attributes no contradiction can exist. He need not suspend one to exercise another, for in Him all His attributes are one. All of God does all that God does; He does not divide Himself to perform a work, but works in the total unity of His being.
Go ahead and read that one more time if you need to. I can only read Tozer about half as fast as I read most other books, and then I have to stop and process :)

The beauty of the character of God is that it is uniform. The concepts we use to describe Him are inseparable from one another; He does not act sometimes with more of one quality and other times with more of a different quality. Everything He does is 100 percent love, 100 percent holiness, 100 percent sovereignty. It's kind of like the posts I wrote a couple of weeks ago about justice and mercy. He isn't sometimes more just and other times more merciful; everything He does is somehow, wonderfully, at the same time both perfectly just and perfectly merciful. It's been that way from the beginning.

Tozer concludes:

The divine attributes are what we know to be true of God. He does not possess them as qualities; they are how God is as He reveals Himself to His creatures. Love, for instance, is not something God has and which may grow or diminish or cease to be. His love is the way God is, and when He loves He is simply being Himself. And so with the other attributes."
What a beautiful comfort and assurance! Though my love may wax and wane; though I may at times be very loving and at other times quite unloving, God's love is not this way because love is not something God possesses. Love is who He is. I am thankful that in the midst of an ever-changing world, God is a constant Rock. I never need worry about which "part" of His character I will face, because in His unity and perfection He will never deal with me in a way that's inconsistent with any aspect of who He is.

1 comment:

maria said...

Nate and I are reading through this book together as well...it really does take time to digest it! This is his third time through the book and he says he still learns something new on every page!