The One & Only

armchair

There is no one like you, O LORD, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. (1 Chronicles 17:20)

Being God must be kind of strange. For one thing, you’re the only one of you there is. It’s not like you’re merely unique, a distinct snowflake among a gazillion other snowflakes. When you’re God you’re the only flake in town.

That’s probably one of the reasons God decided to create humans in his own image. He wanted some other flakes around. I don’t know for sure, but I’m guessing that he got a whole lot more flakiness than he’d bargained for. Even so, we’re only kind of flaky; God is Flake itself.

Since there is only one of God, you can’t exactly compare him to anybody else. You can’t say God is like her or God is like that guy over there. He’s not like them at all, not even close. He’s not like a tree or the ocean or the sky. He’s not like anything except himself. When you’re infinitely whatever God is infinitely of, you’re not like something or even better than something; you’re just plain different.

This is a problem when we want to talk about God. It’s even a problem when God wants to talk about God. For example, when he appeared to Moses at the burning bush, the best he could muster in answer to “Who are you?” was “I am who I am.” (In algebra that’s A = Ω. That’s fine as long as you know A; then you can know Ω. But if you don’t know A, then you can’t solve for Ω. God is an unsolvable equation.) No wonder Moses had to resort to plagues in Egypt.

Jesus himself had to work the language hard to get it to say something about his own divine nature. At one point he seemed to struggle to find the right story and asks,”What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to?” And what do we get as his answer? Mustard and yeast. Uh, yeah. Jesus had his job cut out for him when he tried to explain himself to his disciples:

JESUS: “Okay guys, listen up.  I am a shepherd, right? Uh . . . let’s see . . . I am . . . bread. Wait a minute.  Uh, I am the . . . the road—no, the way—I am the way. Or maybe, I am a . . . door!  Yeah, I’m a door—actually the door, like the only door. You know what I mean? Are you guys getting any of this?”

Still, I’m glad God’s the only God. Those Greeks had nothing but trouble with their bickering, adulterous gang of deities. And with 32 million gods in the Hindu pantheon, there’s hardly any parking, especially on weekends. At least we monotheists know whom to blame for everything.

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