“The glory of God gives life: those who see God receive life. For this reason God, who cannot be grasped, comprehended or seen, allows himself to be seen, comprehended and grasped by men
that he may give life to those who receive him.
The glory of God is man fully alive.”
St. Irenaeus, 185 AD, Against Heresies
Sometimes when I read statements like this one, written nearly 2000 years ago, I’m in awe. Not just impressed by the scholarly or Biblical nature of them, not just by the depth of understanding revealed, but in awe of our contemporary drift away from these depths, away from riveting truths, away from the desire to reach higher, or deeper, or further in, away even from the heat and passion of conviction, the precious life-giving nuggets, contained in these writings. The dictionary tells me that to be fascinated means to be irresistibly attracted. Is there anything today that keeps me fascinated, on my toes, on the edge of my seat in eager anticipation? Howard Thurman (1899-1981) wrote: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” To borrow from the Irenaeus quote, maybe Thurman could have said, ‘Ask yourself what makes you come fully alive.’ I think that ‘ask’ deserves a good think, don’t you?
Let me stir these ideas together to show you where my pondering is leading me. First, Irenaeus states that God gives life (got it). He gives life by allowing himself to be seen (got it). That ‘allowing’ to me, is nothing other than pure Grace (wouldn’t y’all agree?). If God gives us life, we’re alive (are you still following my ramble?). But here’s the zinging bit: Are we fully alive? Are we fully graced? Are we the ‘aliv-est’ we can be? Are we continually immersed in, marinated in, flavored by, diving into, the endless supply of Grace at our disposal? Are we, like after a sumptuous meal, stuffed to the gunwales with aliveness? A comic strip recently showed a couple at a restaurant, holding their tummies and groaning that they were completely full, unable to eat another bite. The server arrives and asks if they would like to see the dessert menu, and they both shout simultaneously, “Absolutely!” Now, that, in my humble opinion, is an accurate illustration of ‘fully alive.’ Or this comic strip: a little boy, Pascale, and his cat, Peekaboo, are hurtling down a snow-covered hill on a ‘flying saucer’ (remember those?). They are catapulted into the air, wide-eyed with momentary terror after hitting a bump, landing in an inglorious heap at the bottom, whereupon they both think via thought bubble, ‘Never again!’ The last frame shows them climbing back up the hill, now thinking, ‘Well, maybe just one more.’ Ah, the carefree, exhilarating days of fully alive youth! Maybe God’s 2022 invitation is to get fuller into being alive, finding ourselves saying ‘more’ more often. Maybe the ‘more’ in store for us is Grace, his Grace. And if, by December 31, we are more fully full, more fully and gloriously alive, we may be Exhibit ‘A’ to the world around us, of the full glory of a very full God! I’ll take a peek at that dessert menu now. And, oh yeah, I’ll see y’all tomorrow at 10 AM, 3 PM, 4 PM. PD