With finite minds, we cannot define infinity or eternity. We’ll never be able to do that. But we can think.
As an exercise in thought, here’s something I’d like to suggest that you consider: For a long time, scientists thought a molecule was the smallest particle in existence. Research went a bit further, and we were taught that neutrons and protons and atoms were even smaller. Nobody ever saw any of those things! They were able to observe effects of their presence, but no one ever actually saw an atom. They can see what the wind does. But no one has ever seen the wind.
Much of our knowledge about some scientific facts (astronomy, for example) is based on mathematical calculations. That’s how some of the planets were discovered, and how other intergalactic objects (distant planets and stars) were located, identified, and tracked. Before Albert Einstein, atoms were considered to be the smallest particle(?) in existence and his “Theory of Relativity” grew out of the research of a massive mind. He was a theoretical physicist. All his work was cranial. It took place between his ears. He never conducted actual physical experiments, but his thought experiments were the basis upon which theories were developed, the atom was split and the nuclear age emerged. And our world was changed dramatically, forever.
One of the practical results of Einstein’s thinking was that the atom, once considered the smallest, indivisible particle in the universe, was split! Some disastrous consequences of that theoretical research were the atomic bomb, the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the birth of the nuclear age. We have yet to see where that discovery may lead.
I simply cannot comprehend the enormity, mystery, and potential of some of the ideas which Newton, Einstsein, Hawking and others considered. Nor can I, on the other hand, understand the profound and powerful statement John used when he spoke of the entrance of Jesus Christ into human history. Here’s his version of the Nativity. Here’s how he tells the Christmas event:
THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH AND DWELT AMONG US, AND WE BEHELD HIS GLORY, AS OF THE ONLY BEGOTTEN OF GOD, FULL OF GRACE AND TRUTH. (John 1:1 and following)
May I just ask you to ponder this statement further? If such incredible power could be released from the ‘splitting of an atom,’ can we even begin to understand the reversal of such a process? Can you imagine compressing eternity into time? Not just turning loose all the stored up energy and power in a tiny atom, but getting all that colossal power compressed again into such a tiny space?
What John is trying to tell us is that the Son of God stooped to become a human being. The Apostle Paul had his own way of tracing this great descent. A baby! Asleep in an animal’s feed trough!
Eternity did not simply intersect time. The glory of God, the living Word of God (Jesus Christ), the “only begotten Son of God” was funneled into that little infant, sleeping, gurgling. With dimpled elbows, arms and legs and all the jerky motions of a new-born, in the sleepy, but busy, little village of Bethlehem? And the entire event was almost unnoticed out on the edges of nowhere in ancient days.
Can you imagine! Really!
Can you even begin to imagine????
Response: We don’t even know how to respond, because we have no idea what we’re trying to understand. Awe. Adoration. Jaw-dropping wonder. Sheer amazement! Those seem to be the only appropriate responses.
One of baseball’s all-time great, colorful characters and catchers was Yogi Berra. He worked some athletic magic with his catcher’s mitt and his bat, but he’s probably equally well known for his malapropisms, his mishandling of words. No one could bungle words or mangle the language quite like Yogi. Like no other I’ve known, he could get his tange all tongueled up! His expressions are the stuff of legends. Even the ones in doubt are delightfully inappropriate. When asked about the Napoleonic Era, they say he said: “It shoulda been ruled a hit!” And this: “I never said all the things they said I said.” Or, “It looks like déjà vous all over again.”
Once on a rare occasion, he dropped a routine popped fly. When he tried to explain what had happened, he commented: “I musta nonchalanted it.”
We do things like that. When in the presence of mystery and things that are eternal, we sometimes ‘drop the ball.’ We ‘non-chalant’ it. We skim lightly over strong, heavy, profound words and scarcely grasp what they really mean. Truth be told, we probably hardly even try to understand.
If even a tiny fragment of the Christmas story is true, the time to yawn and stretch Is gone! “Ho-hum” is not a rational approach to such profoundly beautiful, wonderful concepts.
The Bible says simply, plainly, that the Word…The Eternal Living Word of God…became flesh, just like us. And lived among us.
As summer settles into autumn and we head toward winter and into the Christmas season. . . and before we get caught up in the red and green, insanely profit driven rush to make the cash registers ring . . . wouldn’t it be wise to pause and consider the real significance and wonder of the real meaning of Christmas?
God’s son and servant, your friend, brother, and fellow student, ~donkimrey
“Wherever you go preach the Gospel. And when necessary, use words.” ~ St. Francis of Assissi.