In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1 (NIV) 

You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters below. Exodus 20:4 (NIV)

In the last blog we encountered God as a powerfully creative intelligence. This time we consider what must be the most mysterious, even inconceivable of all the attributes or characteristics of God.

We human beings have some degree of power, creativity and intelligence. To be sure, we can’t imagine the full scope of divine omnipotence and omniscience, but those basic qualities: power, creativity and intellect—at least they aren’t completely alien to our natures. Several blogs ago we contemplated what it means to say, “God is love.” While the ocean depth of divine love remains unfathomable to human hearts, love is not alien to us—in fact God created us to receive his love.

The most mysterious and inconceivable aspect of the divine Being must be found elsewhere. Nothing about God, not even his Triune nature, is more alien to our existence, more profoundly separate and distinct from the entire created order than this: God is Uncreated. God exists without beginning and without end. God cannot not exist—he is. All else that does exist receives the property of existence from God.

God exists not merely as an immaterial spirit (i.e. God has no body)—he must exist outside the boundaries of time and space, because God created time and space. How can we even begin to think of such a Being, who exists in the absence of time and space? It’s literally inconceivable!

This quality of God, the uncreated Being, goes by the name “transcendence”. God’s transcendence doesn’t mean he’s in a high and far away place. Rather, it means God is totally other than us. Divine transcendence refers to the vast gulf separating the Uncreated from all that is created, forming a deep and profound boundary. God is the Creator—all else is created. (Genesis 1:1)

This must be the greatest, most fundamental boundary of all: the immeasurable distance between the uncreated Creator and his creation. God himself is unbounded, unlimited, infinite, while everything created by God is, by nature, limited in power and time and space. Limits and boundaries define existence for creatures who are not the Creator. This is the most fundamental distinction, the greatest boundary of all.

As we saw last time, when creatures cross divinely appointed boundaries they sin. This is called “transgression”. Arguably the worst transgression, the most terrible sin in the Old Testament is idolatry. (Exodus 20:4) What makes idolatry so awful is that it seeks to merge and mix the divine with the created (by worshipping something from the created realm as if it were God), violat­ing that first, primeval distinction.

Idolatry ruptures the proper relationship between God and humanity. Instead of a relationship of loving communion, it becomes one of judgment and condemnation. Idolatry is the worst transgression because it crosses the greatest boundary: between the Creator and creation—introducing chaos into the foundations of the created order.

The temptation to cross the greatest boundary greeted humanity in the Garden of Eden, “you will be like God”, the serpent whispered. (Genesis 3:5) Sadly, we believed the ancient lie then, and so it has been ever since. Idolatry infects generation after generation. Each of which fails, succumbing to judgment and condemnation and death, instead of succeeding to the blessings of love and joy and eternal life that God created us for. Life ends in the futility of death.

Will the cycle of failure and futility ever end? Answering that question must wait until the next blog.

Next Time: Criss-Cross