This short series is an attempt to take the relieve some of the unnecessary (and unbearable!) pressure we so often place on ourselves by assuming that we possess the incommunicable attributes of God. God is creator. We are creation. God is outside of space and time. Not us. God has no limits or potential. Not us. God needs help with nothing. Not us.
In short, it is important to know your limits. So far we have looked at how we aren’t omniscient and thus we shouldn’t pretend to know-it-all. We’re not omnipotent and should therefore not attempt to do-it-all. The last of this series is taking a quick look at the doctrine of omnipresence, inhabiting all places at once. Trying to know everything, do everything, and be everywhere is not only ungodly; it isn’t even pragmatic being that it only leads to frustration and burn out.
Wayne Grudem defines omnipresence as “God does not have size or spatial dimensions and is present at every point of space with this whole being, yet God acts differently in different places.”* God inhabiting every space in the created universe with all of his being is yet another incomprehensible truth about who he is and what he does. It would be incorrect for us to say that “part of God inhabits Tokyo and part of God inhabits Mars.” God is not human and does not come in “parts.” God is fully present in all places and all times.
God Doesn’t Need You to Be Everywhere
Thanks to our snazzy phones and the Internet, it can almost feel like we really have the ability to be everywhere at once. In Back to the Future 2, we got a glimpse of video technology. Now we actually use it all the time! It enables us to “be” in multiple places at once. Connecting to multiple people and places via technology is one thing. But trying to be in two places at once physically is impossible. We know that it is true but that doesn’t stop us from trying. If we’re not careful, we can over commit ourselves; trying to be in two places at once. The results are frustration, anxiety, and exhaustion.
God designed us to not be everywhere for a reason. He doesn’t need us racing from place to place, never slowing down to rest, play, enjoy the world, or be totally present with our family and friends. He only made one of you to be only in one place at a time. Try focusing on this for 30 seconds this week: Be totally present in the one place where you are.
Practice the Presence of God
Has the omnipresence of God ever really occurred to you? It is mind-blowing. One of the classic must-read pieces of Christian literature is undoubtedly, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. This simple French soldier turned monk from Paris devoted his life to grasping the doctrine and reality of God being omnipresent and it changed everything for him. As a cobbler and a cook who was quite alone compared the rest of us, he really wasn’t alone. As he learned to live in the presence of God, his mindset changed, and the inner posture of his heart was quite happy.
He said, “You need not cry very loud: He is nearer to us than we think.” Brother Lawrence performed the very small tasks of washing dishes and preparing shoes every day but listen to the joy in his heart because he was aware that he didn’t have to be everywhere and rather God was with him. “We can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying in the pan for love of him, and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before him, who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king. It is enough for me to but a straw from the ground for the love of God.”
Psalm 139 speaks loudly to God's omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence. My friends in Kings Kaleidoscope put all this theology to song.
*Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, 173.