Wednesday, March 21, 2012
transcendence and immanence
If the cry of my trouble does not come up as far as you, let the care of your goodness come down as far as me!
God is transcendent. This simply means he is “wholly other”, but often we associate his transcendence with being “up there”, far away. We think of where God lives, heaven, as far away and in the sky, up high. We think of his throne as “high and lifted up”. He is so far away that we can barely see him from our vantage.
The situation feels even bleaker when we say “my prayers just seem to hit the ceiling and bounce back down to the floor.” When a letter needs to be sent across an ocean, you at least hope it will travel more than 10 feet before being “returned to sender.”
We’ve misunderstood God, though. He is “wholly other” in a close kind of way. He is both transcendent and immanent. Heaven is not “up there”, it is right here. Jesus said it was “at hand”, right by our side.
God surrounds us. We are like preborn babies in God’s womb. Here, in God, there is perfect care and goodness. Yes, God is “wholly other” but The Other is also love, warmth and affection. Yes, we cry and it seems hard to believe that God hears us. But God knows what we need even before we need it—in the same way a mother knows what her baby needs before the baby is born. God doesn’t have to come down to you because you are already in him.
Prayers don’t have to go far. Many times they are even answered before they’re uttered. Still, pray, because he loves to hear your voice.
See? He is good and caring. This is what makes him so wonderful. So, he is above and beyond anything you could ever ask for or imagine. To say this is to say he is transcendent.
In him we live and move and have our being. -Acts 17:28