How Great Is the Universe

Comment by Robert D. Brinsmead

It is fair to say that if we can see further than the ancients, it is because we stand on their shoulders.  The light is destined to shine more and more until the perfect day.  Even the writer of the fourth Gospel could say of the past, the darkness is past, the true light now shineth.

For instance, some of the ancient writers wrote of God as if “he” (Morwell the RC priest taught me not to use this masculine pronoun) strutted his power, especially his destructive might, to bring glory to God’s self and to take pleasure (even laugh and deride) the puniness of man.   When we think of the unimaginable dimensions of this universe as we now know it to be, the awesomeness of space/time, the idea of God displaying his violence and power over a little power like Egypt seems quite ridiculous.  That’s worse than having Muhammed Ali boast of his ability to beat up a little old lady of 99 years of age.  It is worse than having an elephant gloating over its ability to tread the tiniest insect imaginable under its big foot….Imagine!   But even that would be a poor illustration when this whole earth looks to be less than a grain of sand even in our Milky Way Galaxy which is only a modest galaxy among billions of other galaxies, each have billions of stars, some of them a hundred or a thousand times bigger than our sun.

The greatness of the Universe’s creating Agent is beyond all our thought and imaginings and God becomes unthinkable, unimaginable, unsearchable, incomprehensible, indescribable and unpronounceable.  “No man has seen God at any time.” But here is where our focus is directed:  If a man does not love his fellow human whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?    I have often contemplated the force of this NT statement, this diamond in the dunghill of apocalyptic theology – and it is indeed a great statement from this NT author.  How can we love someone who is unsearchable, unimaginable, who is Mystery hidden in a mystery.  In one sense, we have to answer that we cannot love someone we have not seen.  But then we must also recognize that this God has given us an image of what God is, and that is mankind made in God’s image and likeness.  This is the only place we can see the face of God, the only insight we ever can have as to what God is.  This means that God cannot be worshipped and loved and served as God is in God’s self (for this dimension is above all thought and imaginings).  The worship of God in the abstract of our thought and imaginings is idolatrous, it is dangerous and it has been the cause of great bloodshed among mankind.  God can only be loved and served only in and through loving and serving humanity.  And that is why the love of fellow mankind is all of the law and the prophets. Putting this another way, the only way we can fulfil the First Commandment (thou shalt love the Lord they God with all thy heart, with all thy soul and with all thy might” is to love your neighbour as yourself.  The one who does this has fulfilled the First Great Commandment, and this commandment can only be understood when it is hidden and lost in the second commandment which is the total fullfilment of the law.