Many people tend to ask how we can pray to a God whom we do not know. This question, of course, refers to God the Father – the One to whom we pray, through His Only-Begotten Son and by the Holy Spirit. In this blog, I want to delve into what it means to worship a God that is beyond our understanding, beyond our mind’s comprehension and beyond our limited nature.
For quite a while the Creed has been seen as a declaration of our beliefs and a way in which we can answer the question, “What exactly do you believe in?” in which we can respond with, “Truly we believe in…” which works because it truly is what we believe. However, if it was just a declaration of our faith, why does it hold such a huge part in the baptism of children into the faith? Within a baptism ceremony, the parents recite the Creed. This is not only declaring the parent’s faith – it is so much more than that. The Orthodox Church sees the Creed as not just a mere summary of things to be believed, but a part of the initiation into the new life. It outlines the life in which a child will embrace, which involves both learning the faith and practicing what it requires.
With this being the case, it is only reasonable to assume that the Creed offers a sort of outline as to the steps in which our lives should take or in which our faith should follow. The thought I find most intriguing is that the Creed begins with, “Truly, we believe in One God, God the Father, the Pantocrator, creator of Heaven and Earth, of all things seen and unseen”. So, doesn’t it seem strange that the first step in our faith is to believe in One of whom the Bible says, “No one has seen God at any time” (John 1:18)? It is essential to understand that this speaks of God the Father – for the Son and the Holy Spirit were made manifest.
Some may question this idea of worshiping One whom we acknowledge is beyond our understanding. However, I would question how we could worship One who isn’t?
Some may question this idea of worshiping One whom we acknowledge is beyond our understanding. However, I would question how we could worship One who isn’t? Our faith starts “with God, not as knowing Him, but as standing before a mystery that is, and will remain, beyond our understanding” (Andrew Louth). However why does God not want to reveal Himself to us out of His great love that He has for us? “It is not, however, as if God kept the mysteries of His being in some kind of jealous possessiveness; rather, God wants to make Himself known, He longs to share His being and life with His creatures. Only in that coming to know the uncreated God, we shall be overwhelmed by the mystery of His being, the inexhaustibility of any knowledge we may glimpse of Him” (Andrew Louth). For out of God’s immense love, He has made us and wants to reveal Himself to the extent that He allows us to call Him “Our Father”, however due to His greatness we are incapable of fully comprehending His presence.
“…Only in that coming to know the uncreated God, we shall be overwhelmed by the mystery of His being, the inexhaustibility of any knowledge we may glimpse of Him” (Andrew Louth).
So, what now? Should we just acknowledge that we will ever know Him and just give up? Quite the contrary! Can anyone among you tell me that they know Gandhi on a personal level, have spent time with him and know him in his fullness? Most likely not, and yet many of us know him as a great person because of two very important points: what he SAID and what he DID. In the same way, we can come to know the Father (not in fullness) through His Word, Jesus Christ, and the Giver of Life, the Holy Spirit. For it is through these that the Father has made Himself known and all we need to do is try to reciprocate by knowing his Son, through whom we can pray to the Father, and acknowledge the Holy Spirit.
For Saint John in his Gospel continues and says, “The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:18). Again, in his Epistle he says, “If we love another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us” (1 John 4:12). Despite the Father being above our mind’s comprehension, through these we see that He is still someone whom we can worship, believe in, and most importantly have a relationship with as His sons and daughters. So, let us not be dismayed by the incomprehensible nature of God the Father to whom we call upon but rather may we be filled with the longing to know Him through His Son and the Holy Spirit. In doing so, we can experience the rich love He has shown to make Himself known to us, and in this, we can truly pray to Him who we know is above all.
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“…If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also.” (John 8:19)
SAYG ~ David Kyrillos.