Can something limitless be limited? In the truest sense, No. God is the only limitless One in existence and He cannot be limited. So, why bring up the subject? To attempt a proper understanding of limitless power, holiness, justice, grace, and love it helps to recognize the limitations we each bring to the table. And what might those be?
Limitless: Matters Of The Mind
I bring a limited mind to the task. How can the finite grasp the infinite? Understanding God’s lack of limits is hampered by my own physical limitations. My body, my life and the whole concept of time is a limitation to me. But other things are also limited. I am limited by my unseen prejudice, my perspectives, and my point of view. Don’t doubt that.
God is limitless in all His attributes. But how many times have I (or you) had some expectations of what He should be or should do. The very idea is the limited (us) trying to impose our limits on the Limitless One. When I think He is somehow bound to my expectations, I am truly thinking of myself more highly than I should (Romans 12:3).
Then there is the matter of sin. I cannot perceive all God is, or all He wants to do, because of my sinfulness. And we do have a good example of this idea.
Suffering Our Limitations
The Apostle Peter is a good illustration of this point. In Luke 5, Jesus approached the disciples after they had been fishing all night. And you know the story – they had caught nothing! They were tired and frustrated. But our familiarity with the story keeps us from seeing the irony in it. If we add some other factors to the account the irony becomes apparent.
Jesus, a carpenter, tells a bunch of experienced fishermen where to throw their nets. Had they ever instructed Jesus about how to cut lumber? Well, as usual, Peter was the first to talk! If I may paraphrase Peter’s words and thoughts:
Jesus, I know this isn’t going to do any good (I’m the expert here), but because it’s You giving the instructions, I will let down a net.
The limitless power of God was about to be limited by Peter’s sinfulness. Or we could say: Our Father’s limitless love gives abundantly to His children. But His abundant giving was about to be limited by Peter’s self-perception. Again, you know what happened.
They let down a net – just one! Jesus had instructed them to put their nets in. Oh what we learn from the details! Even so, they couldn’t haul in the fish. What they did catch nearly sank the boat. Scripture tells us our Father wants to do for us than can enter into our eyes, ears, or imaginations. The blessing Peter got was almost unimaginable yet he only did part of what Jesus told him to do. What would he have gotten had he been totally obedient? Can’t imagine, can we? That thought convicts me and simultaneously encourages me! And it also leads me to other questions.
Is partial obedience really obedience? It’s a tough question as illustrated by Peter’s example. Jesus’ own example is one of total obedience. He did not:
- Go halfway to the cross
- Pay only 90% of of the penalty for our sins
- Have a 60% resurrection
Because of these things, all creation will bow to Him for all eternity (Philippians 2:10). My obedience pales in comparison. Even though God can, and sometimes does, bless partial obedience, only God can calculate the blessings I have missed in partial obedience. How about you?
And just maybe you have missed the blessing of having a part in this ministry. What could God do through our collective efforts to equip more pastors who in turn equip others? Only He knows! But you can let down a net by sponsoring a pastor. We need the help, the pastors need it, and God can use it in ways you can’t imagine!
An important ‘heads up’ for everyone! Over the next few days I will be writing posts and email around the idea of transitions. Last week we asked everyone to pray. It was a little cryptic, but that’s OK. Faithful people pray when asked. That request is still active. And the Transitions series will make it all clear. So, please keep praying and please stay tuned here and check you inbox! Thanks much, and…
Soli Deo Gloria!
(NOTE: I am thankful to Dr. John Phillips for pointing out the distinction between nets and net in his commentary on Luke 5.