A few weeks ago, in The First Word, I suggested that the word ‘in’ could be Christianity’s answer to the meditative syllable ‘om’ used by Hindus. But if you don’t connect with in, maybe try am on for size.
What am I talking about, you ask? Have a look at Exodus 3:13-14:
Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
Our language is so pitifully insufficient to capture and describe God’s essence that when asked His name, God simply says I am.
It sort of reminds me of the scene in the 1967 Star Trek episode This Side of Paradise, where in an alien spore-induced outpouring of emotion, the normally dispassionate Spock (Leonard Nimoy) gets all shmoopy with a beauty named Leila (Jill Ireland). She asks him what his first name is, he chuckles and lovingly replies, ‘You couldn’t pronounce it.’)
OK, the parallel is pretty thin. But it’s there, trust me.
Back in Genesis, God’s answer to the ‘What’s Your Name?’ question seems profoundly unhelpful, doesn’t it? I mean, we all are, aren’t we? Stars are. Antelopes are. Rocks are. Protozoa are. Is there anything more fundamental to every atom in the universe than the reality that it is?
But God’s Am-ness is of an entirely different stuff than that of everything else in the universe, isn’t it? The Bible begins with the phrase, ‘In the Beginning, God created…‘, which means He must have been there before the beginning.
There was a point in the history of time when we didn’t exist, and therefore had no am-ness, but as Jesus says in Revelation 1:8, ‘“I am the Alpha and the Omega … who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”’
A quick digression: since we’re in a series on Words, I can’t not point out the nifty parallel between Jesus being identified as The Word in John 1:1, and effectively calling Himself the whole alphabet in the Alpha-Omega verse in Revelation 1. (That pithy little nugget is courtesy of Reversed Thunder, a study on the Book of Revelation by Eugene [The Message] Peterson, by the way.) Thus endeth the digression. (This one, anyway.)
Our am-ness began only because God decided to create us, and if He decided to un-create us, our am-ness would instantly become was-ness. But as Jesus implies in Revelation 1:8, there are no external forces that can have any impact on His Am-ness.
Rob is (for now). The Universe is (for now).
But God is.
Peace be with you.
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