God-so far yet so near

imagesThe most fundamental distinction of all reality is that between Creator and creature. He makes, we are made; he is original, we are derivative; he is everlasting, we are temporal; he is infinite, we are finite; he exists a se, we ab alio.

There is no parallel to the Creator and creature relationship. No other relationship comes close. C. S. Lewis makes an interesting observation about this singular relation:

“God is both further from us, and nearer to us, than any other being.”[1]

God is further from us because of the sheer difference between that which has its principle of being within itself and that to which has its being communicated. God alone is uncreated. No other reality distinct from God can make such a claim. It is why God is, well, God and we are not. It is part of what makes God worship worthy (along with the fact that he is maximally perfect in his other attributes). On this score, the difference between man, angels, and inchworms is insignificant.

But, at the same time, and for the same reason, the intimacy we attain with God is closer than any creature can attain with another creature. Our power to think, to communicate, to act freely in the world are all communicated. Our continued existence is at every moment supplied by him. Wherever we turn, God is there. Whatever we do, God’s hand is upon us—at once respecting our freedom yet working for our own good. No creature can claim that kind of intimacy with another created thing.

Reflection on what theologians call the transcendence and immanence of God fill me with gratitude and awe. I’m gratitude for the gift of being, the gift of life, the gift of freewill. I’m in awe of God’s mercy and love. He didn’t need anything when he created. He didn’t create to get. He created to give. He created to spend his joy and delight with others.

What a fascinating and unexpected doctrine—so far, yet so near! And this makes all the difference.














[1] C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2001), 33.

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