Historic orthodox Christianity at its most basic core believes that God is both infinite and personal and wants to have a relationship with us. The Bible tells us of a God who is the uncaused first cause, who preexisted the universe that we know and inhabit. Beyond the limitations of the physical, and in fact the creator of the physical world, God is in no way limited by space and time; He created it all. The immense and wonderful universe that exists is a display of His infinite intelligence, power, and creative ability. He “spoke” all that exists into existence out of nothing that previously existed – He willed it and it was so. An incalculable number of unfathomably complex atoms came into existence, formed into billions of galaxies, stars, and solar systems, in immeasurable space.
Many, maybe most, today believe that it is not reasonable to think that in the vastness of the cosmos there simultaneously exists a God who relates to individual people. The authors of a social media post somewhat mockingly expressed this commonly held idea:
CHRISTIANITY: Belief that one God created a universe 13.79 billion years old, 93 billion light years in diameter (1 light year = approximately 6 trillion miles), consisting of over 200 billion galaxies, each containing an average of 200 billion stars, only to have a personal relationship with you.
While not agreeing with all of the stated presuppositions here, I think this statement about Christianity is essentially correct. Christianity fundamentally believes that God is both infinite and personal and wants to have a relationship with us.
Creation has a divine purpose beyond merely manifesting God’s infinite glory to Himself and to His created beings. He created the universe of “93 billion light years in diameter (1 light year = approximately 6 trillion miles), consisting of over 200 billion galaxies, each containing an average of 200 billion stars” as the perfectly designed home for humankind. He created all that exists within our observation and comprehension for a great divine purpose that is in truth even beyond the glory of creation. He designed us for the grand purpose that demands that we know Him, love Him, and worship and serve Him. He created human beings in order to manifest His grace, mercy, forgiveness, and love. Mankind, created by God, did the unthinkable, as God knew would be the case even before creation. Mankind sinned and rebelled against the Creator. Far more wonderfully than even creation itself expresses, God in turn has done the unimaginable. He has made a way for us to be spared the consequences of rebellion against Him. In Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Triune God became incarnate. God stunningly became a man in order to be the requisite Savior.
Jesus Christ told us of God. He taught us great high ethical standards. He told us of God’s majesty and holiness. He told us of the grace and love of God. But supremely, He, God incarnate, submitted to a tortuous death on a crude Roman cross to demonstrate the monstrous consequence of human rebellion against creator God and to be the perfect sacrifice to provide the necessary atonement for human sin. He died and resurrected in victory over death and sin for anyone who will but end rebellion against God, turn to Christ and embrace His gospel, recognize Him as Savior and Lord. Yes, “only to have a personal relationship with you.”
Space and time and life on earth is a great display of God’s glory, and of His attributes of transcendence, unlimited knowledge, unlimited ability. But surpassing that is the fact that God in Christ has Himself atoned for human sin and rebellion. His redeemed people will know and love and worship Him eternally as Creator, but even more as gracious Redeemer. A contemporary hymn writer has beautifully reminded us,
How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
God’s love, expressed in Christ on the cross, is “vast beyond all measure.”
What one believes about the anti-Christian sentiment and doubt expressed in the referenced social media post has great philosophical and practical implications. Without an infinite personal god, human existence and life becomes vain and purposeless. A human is but a tiny meaningless speck, an accumulation of a few trillion atoms, existing in a vast eternal cosmos of meaninglessness. The uncomfortable but necessary conclusion is that there may be no answer in the quest for purpose and meaning. Ethics and morality become relative. Absolutes have no basis. If I as an individual have no meaning or objective value, why might I assign value or purpose to others beyond what they can do for me? The existentialist’s though of individual personal autonomy, of “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die, and when I die I shall but rot,” becomes completely reasonable. Love, hate, or indifference become merely highly complex chemical reactions in the brain of an individual. The immaterial aspects of a human being that make one human – intelligence, emotions, thoughts, logic, will – have no explanation. A purely naturalistic worldview cannot account for such realities.
Ultimately, the underlying nature of doubt about an infinite personal god is rooted in the fact that people want to be their own authority. Jesus said, recorded in John 3:19, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” They are unwilling to admit their sin and turn away from their sin. They are unwilling to acknowledge Christ as Savior and Lord; they see no need for a supernatural savior, they want no Lord.
But to the Christian, there is no vain pursuit of meaning. God values “beyond all measure” the people who He has created and who He has forgiven and redeemed. He values us so much that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins to conquer sin and its effect, death and eternal separation from God. He in fact delights in our eternal joy.
God told the ancient prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5). God knows us intimately and gives our lives purpose and meaning. He formed us through His wisdom and power, and He sustains every moment of our existence. Reflecting on God’s sovereignty over our existence, the psalmist David wrote in Psalm 139:17, “How precious to me are your thoughts, God!” The Creator made us, knows us, and loves us.
Further, the Christian belief in a personal god, the God Who has revealed Himself to us through the ancient Hebrew prophets, through the inspired Scriptures, and supremely in Christ, leads to the conviction that moral authority resides in that personal God. Man is no longer left to his own devices on questions of ethics and morals. We can no longer be autonomous. We cannot act as we please; we cannot treat others as we please. We are created by God in the image of God who placed within us a moral nature. He created us as both physical beings and as mind and “soul,” capable of communication, thought, reason, emotions, and will. God has in fact spoken to us and revealed Himself to us, and we must live in obedient relationship to God as the ultimate authority. All questions of philosophy, ethics, morals, human relationships and societal construct are subject to Him as Creator, Redeemer, and Supreme Ruler over creation.