Order, Order

When I ended the last blog post, I generally knew where this next post was headed; however, the more I thought about the subject, the more I realized I had no idea what I was talking about. It is now ten months later and I am just beginning wrap my head around the concept. So, the next few posts are going to examine God and limits and see where it takes us.

Drive me to any community in North America, drop me off at the local library and ask me to find a particular book. You might as well wait for me, because it’ll take longer to fill out the application for a lending card than to find the book.

Then take me walking through its blocks and boroughs and ask me to enter a randomly chosen house and open the kitchen utensil drawer. If I’m not shot as an intruder, the chances of me picking the drawer on my first attempt are, I estimate, 95% or greater.

Because of the limits of human speed, brain power & capacity, and even patience, the limits of time and space, we have developed methods of categorization, storage and organization which help us remember, help us retrieve, help us locate. These methods are found in both top-down standards systems, such as the library, as well as bottom-up efficiency systems, such as choosing a utensils drawer.

The result is that when we read Paul telling the Corinthians that things should be done properly and in order, we imagine that God himself is, as is often heard, a God of order.

But let us indulge in a quick thought experiment. Imagine that we fill the cargo hold of a Hercules aircraft with books. We then fly out over some uncharted Pacific atoll and push the books out of the hold. Some bury themselves in the sand. Some are lodged in palm trees. Some fall into a cave. Some sink into the ocean itself. And a few lie forgotten in the hold of the plane. Now let us imagine that God wants to read one of the books. Is there one that escapes his gaze? Is there a book that eludes his roaming eye? No? Then what do human concepts of order have to do with God?

The problem is that we take the limits of humanity, add the limits of creation, and then posit this as the nature of God.

Two of the more common declarations made about God is that he is a God of order and that he is limitless. But order is about limits. It is about establishing boundaries which enable others to go about their business in a more efficient manner, be it reading, cooking or driving. The two are not mutually exclusive – for example, one can offer a limitless supply in an ordered fashion – but one cannot be without limit and be of order.

So God could be limitless yet choose to order, but he could not be order and choose to be limitless. Given these options, I’m betting on the former, and that will be the position the next few posts will take.