The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
The skies display his craftsmanship.
Day after day they continue to speak;
night after night they make him known.
They speak without a sound or word;
their voice is never heard.
Yet their message has gone throughout the earth,
and their words to all the world.
God is not concept. He is not an idea. He is a person, and He is concrete. The dilemma is that He is not always concrete to us, which is to say, we do not always experience Him. When we do, we are either unaware of it, or we do not always have words to describe it, because while He is concrete, we are still unfamiliar with Him. This is why the Bible is full of metaphor. There are things that are concrete to our experience, so we use those things to put words to what is new to us. This is the making of metaphor.
Metaphors and symbols in the Bible exist to point us right back to intimate relationship with the Creator. In fact, the physical creation itself exists for this purpose, so that we can see God’s desire in action, not just read it or imagine it. So all of what has physical concreteness is there to teach us spiritual realities that are of even more substance. I would say that creation itself is a metaphor, but what stops me is you and I. As human beings, we were not meant to be a random form that could be used to illustrate an aspect of God. We were made to be in His image…to experience His love, to be full of God, not just reflect Him. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27). This gives new meaning when we stop and consider marriage and sex.
The man Jesus is the pinnacle of all that God is showing us. “Jesus answered… ‘Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father’” (John 14:9). “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being…” (Hebrews 1:3). Why do we need Jesus? After evil entered our world through the first man and woman, humanity became an abstract form, more like a metaphor, resembling God in some way, but no longer displaying Him in heart and deed. The gift of Jesus is this…to re-form us into the Father’s image inside and out, just the way Jesus is. Jesus became our sin, our selfishness, our abstract form, when He was murdered on the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21). If you receive Him, your old self will die with Him; and your new self will rise with Him, and begin “being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all” (Colossians 3:9-11). In other words, when Christ is in you, there is no religious or unreligious, black or white, brown or yellow, elite or non-elite, civilized or uncivilized, rich or poor, but Christ is all, and is in all.
You may be familiar with the Bible verses called “The Beatitudes.” “Blessed are the poor in spirit…” “Blessed are the meek…” “Blessed are the peacemakers…” In the middle of this conversation, Jesus makes a statement that seems daunting. “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). But the heartbeat of Jesus is no more profoundly heard than when He opposed the callous religious crowd with this: “I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent” (Luke 5:32). If you feel like you are far gone, far from the image of God, take heart in the reality of what Jesus is up to.
“The one who fears is not made perfect in love“ (1 John 4:18). You are created to be loved to perfection.
Jesus to the Father… “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me…” (John 17:22-23). The same glory that the heavens proclaim is given to you.
“I [Jesus] have made you [the Father] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them” (John 17:26).
When we come to know the depth of oneness that the Father is after in sending us Jesus, we are no longer able to settle for anything less, for anything outside of Jesus. We make the leap from intellectual conceptualization to awakened heart. This is not to say that we lose our minds, to the contrary, our minds become more whole. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
As we make metaphor, the thing we are familiar with is concrete to us, the thing we attempt to describe is abstract to us. We consider something in terms or pictures that are outside of its form. When our heart is awakened by Jesus, we begin learning to consider all things in Him. Suddenly what was metaphor becomes concrete. “In Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).
What is the difference between God being everywhere by virtue of being God, and Him filling someone or something? If God is everywhere, how is it that He ever left anything? He is everywhere and ever-present, and showing Himself to us always, but we do not always have eyes to see it. As far as Him filling our lives, He does not impose His presence on our experience. I can stand in front of you, but will not fill your experience until you invite me to share your inner life. It’s the same with God.
The Father gave His creatures volition, and volition over the things entrusted to them. He respects that which He creates and gives, so He draws us, but lets us choose. This is how it can be said that He is love (1 John 4:8). God exists everywhere, but He will not fill all things until He also fills your choice.
“He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things” (Ephesians 4:10).
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”—Jesus (Revelation 3:20)