Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Other

I am God, and there is none like me. -Isaiah 46:9b

You don't have to read much of Karl Barth to understand that he places a lot of emphasis on the "otherness" of God. Our understanding of God, he claims, is weak and feeble. The finite trying to grasp the Infinite.

We lose sight of God's otherness, maybe, in this day and age of the exaltation of humanity. Our sins have become "mistakes." Our rejection of His law have become "choices." Truly His ways are not our ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts.

But the Creator has revealed Himself to His creatures. The "heavens declare His glory (Psalm 19:1)," sings the Psalmist. Paul proclaims that "what can be known about God is plain (Romans 1:19)."

Still this is a being who can create something out of nothing, hold all creation in existence by the power of His will and is so vast his creation can't contain Him.

So how can my mind begin to grasp the reality of a being who is so "other" from me?

In Ephesians 5:32, Paul speaks of the mystery of marriage as pointing the way to understanding of the mystery of Christ's love for his bride, the Church.

In His creation of humankind into two sexes, it seems that God has given us a clue to the puzzle of the other.

Who has not meditated with wonder (and at times, despair) upon the differences between men and women?

To men, women may seem creatures of pure emotion, with no rhyme or reason, no logic whatever to their thinking.

As I understand it, men have seemed to women as cold, unfeeling brutes ruled by their base desires.

It seems like total war, at times, with no compromise possible and utter destruction the aim of the enemy. It is useful, at such times, to remember that there is an enemy and this is indeed his aim.

But where does that leave us, men and women, in this necessary struggle to understand and resolve our differences, our otherness?

God, in His mercy and wisdom, has given us these relationships. But it is a mistake (and a sin) to enjoy only that physical difference while despising those things that set us apart emotionally and mentally. 

What a struggle it has been to (begin to) learn to embrace the other that is my beloved. To understand that without her, I am incomplete. To see how our differences complement each other and at the same time, teach us forbearance and kindness.

Just as those physical differences are the cause for so much joy, so also am I fulfilled in embracing this strange, this other being. To love her, to cherish her with all my heart, soul and mind.

It is indeed a great mystery, just as Paul has said. One which will be revealed on that day when I stand before the ultimate Other.

And I will glorify Him and enjoy Him forever.

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