Worship

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33

The Otherness of God

by
Thom Mattson

Ask God to speak as you interact with today's Scripture and devotional.

“I am the Lord; I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.” — Isaiah 42:8
“I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.” — Isaiah 44:6
“With whom will you compare me or count me equal?” — Isaiah 46:5
“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.” — Isaiah 46:9

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When I think of the otherness of God, I often think about C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. There is a famous scene where Mr. Beaver is speaking with the Pevensie children right after they have stumbled through the wardrobe into Narnia. Mr. Beaver is attempting to describe Aslan to the children when Susan asks the question, “Is he quite safe?” To which Mr. Beaver replies, “Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you… He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.” 

So often this seems to be the case for us. We try to tame the Lord and have him fit within the mold we would like or stay in the box we have created. But what if God is bigger? What if He holds the box, us, and the whole world in His hands and is unmatched in wisdom and authority? That God offers to journey with us, but the journey may be wild and also good. That is a God, who, when we come face to face with His otherness, our only reaction will be to stand in awe and respond with wonder and praise. We need to stop trying to tame the Lord and instead allow Him to roam free; to lead us into the wild and the wonder that only His majesty can spark.

Matt Redmond challenges us to proclaim the incomparable otherness of God in our worship and avoid downsizing His greatness into something tame and domesticated:

Worship thrives on wonder. We can admire, appreciate, and perhaps even adore someone without a sense of wonder. But we cannot worship without wonder. For worship to be worship, it must contain something of the otherness of God. I've come to love that word — otherness. It's such a great worship word. A sense that God is so pure, matchless, and unique that no one else and nothing else even comes close. He is altogether glorious — unequaled in splendor and unrivalled in power. He is beyond the grasp of human reason — far above the reach of even the loftiest scientific mind. Inexhaustible, immeasurable, and unfathomable — eternal, immortal, and invisible.

Sometimes in the church we find ourselves doing the exact opposite. We take the extraordinary revelation of God and somehow manage to make Him sound completely ordinary! We fail to communicate the sense of God's otherness. As A.W. Tozer puts it, “Left to ourselves we tend immediately to reduce God to manageable terms.” 

God will not be diluted, dumbed down, or patronized. He rebuked worshippers who were doing that in Psalm 50:21, “You thought I was altogether like you.” But he is not like one of us. He is utterly incomparable – beyond the farthest horizon of our imaginations. (Matt Redmon, Facedown, p. 23-25)

reflect

Answer the questions below and write down any other thoughts and prayers to God in your Life in Rhythm journal.

  1. How would you describe the otherness of God in your own words? Is His otherness important to you? If so, why? 
  2. How do you tend to see God? Is He more of an intimate, loving friend? Or is He someone who is immeasurable and unfathomable? How are you able to keep both perspectives in mind as you worship Him?
  3. As you reflect on God’s claims in the verses above, take time to worship God for being utterly incomparable and yet generous and kind in His love for you.

Go deeper (optional)

Every day you'll have an opportunity to "go deeper" into God's Word by practicing the REAP study method. Read the following scripture and use your journal and the REAP method to unpack the following scripture and apply it to your life.

Isaiah 46:8-13
Learn more about reap