Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Homily 31: The Unsearchable Goodness of God (as preached by an orthodox rebel)

"...many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah...but unto none of them was Elijah sent, except unto Zarephath, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them were cleansed, except Naaman the Syrian." Luke 4:25-27

In the immediate sense, Jesus is predicting His rejection by His own people (Luke 4:24). This was also referred to by John in his gospel (John 1:11), as well as Paul in his epistle to the Romans (Rom. 11:25-32) where he states that Israel's rejection of Christ meant that the gospel has come to the gentiles, whose salvation will subsequently lead back to the salvation of Israel. Jesus' audience understood what he was saying: the blessing that he recited from Isaiah (Luke 4:18-19) was not necessarily meant for them. Thus, they tried to kill Him out of anger (Luke 4:28-29).

In a general sense, we see here that God does not abide by our preconceived notions or modes of thought. In fact, God's design is typically to upset our established notion of things, to step into our individual synagogues and overturn our private assumptions until we stop thinking in our terms and start thinking in His. This is always a struggle, perhaps even the struggle of the Christian life: to never reach a point where you have God "settled out" in your mind, where you think you know exactly how He is going to deal with you and others. Such ignorance and arrogance are always upset by God so that he may restore us to the correct posture towards Him: "O the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!" (Rom. 11:33).

God is not random, nor is He unknowable. He has revealed Himself and His ways unto us, both by his word and by His Son (Heb. 1:1-2). In addition, He abides by principles and reason. The key is that it is His principles and His reason, which are perfect and divine and thus ultimately beyond us. The things which He has revealed are ours and our children's forever, but that which He has not revealed belong to Him (Deut. 29:29). Thus, we are creatures who "know in part" (I Cor. 13:9). For example, we know that God is good in all things in regard to His children (Rom. 8:28), but we cannot say exactly how that goodness will manifest itself in our day-to-day lives. For a season, God's goodness may even look like hate or indifference, but it is not. It is goodness, always goodness. Goodness unsearchable and past finding out, the half of which cannot be fancied this side of the golden shore. In that mystery, we rest and find hope.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2011


  1. It's often hard for me to remember that it's okay not to understand everything. Thanks for reminding me.

  2. I often find myself can someone love so unselfishly when all we do as humans is sin constantly.