Do you know how many galaxies there are? Take a guess, before you look further.
Astronomers used to think there were about 125 billion. Now they estimate it’s closer to 500 billion. How do they know? They train telescopes on a small area and do a crude estimate of the whole sky. The better our telescopes get, the more they show that what first appears to be empty, dark space, is surprisingly not.
Our galaxy, the Milky Way, has about 400 billion stars, if you’re wondering. So when you look up at a starry sky, you can think – there is at least a whole galaxy for every star you see. Each filled with millions or billions of stars.
It’s a bit of an understatement then, to say the universe is huge. The universe is gigantically enormous. Next to the starry sky, we human beings are absolutely microscopic, tiny specks of dust on a little piece of dirt we call Earth.
Now this raises some interesting questions, especially concerning God and faith.
On one level, I think it supports the belief in God. If there is a God who is infinite and eternal, you would expect his creation to show some of those characteristics. The cosmos as we are coming to know it seems to be just the thing you would expect from God.
But it also raises at least one question – for Christianity, in particular. The good news of Christianity is that the Creator actually entered his creation and become one of us. The Bible teaches that Jesus, the Son of God, took on our flesh. Christians call this “the Incarnation” and remember it, of course, especially at Christmas time.
Just a Legend?
But is that really believable? The universe tells us that God must be absolutely immense. And humans are teeny. How can the Infinite become infinitesimal? How can God become a baby? I’ve heard atheists and Muslims alike argue that this is irrational, a logical contradiction. They say it belongs more to the realm of legend or myth. Seems like the sort of thing that humans with too big of a view of themselves and too small a view of the universe would invent.
More than whisper
Can we really believe in the incarnation – the Creator becoming one of his creatures?
Here’s a few things to consider.
First, a passage from the Bible, the book of Job.
This book describes a man, Job, who is suffering and questioning God. But he learns not to judge God by human standards. At one point, he says to himself, Just look at God’s creation.
“And these are but the outer fringe of his works;
how faint the whisper we hear of him!
Who then can understand the thunder of his power?” (Job 26:14))
As Job wrestles with God – and with his doubts – he concludes that in creation, in the universe, we only glimpse what God can do. He is foolish to judge God by his own ideas and standards.
The billions of galaxies, then, – rather than making the incarnation doubtful – should do the very opposite. If the universe is only a whisper, surely when God speaks more loudly he can do something even more mind boggling.
Like take on our flesh and blood.
Lessons from Dr. Seuss
The incarnation means Divinity becomes dust. But that isn’t an “easy” miracle, if there is such a thing. This is just the kind of thing you would expect the God who made the universe, the God who is greater than we can imagine to do.
It was C.S. Lewis who noted that great love and great empathy require a great being. You don’t ask a horse to sympathize with a child. You don’t imagine a dog becoming an ant. But the mark of a great person is that they can also enter the world of those so small.
Perhaps you know of that Dr. Seuss book, Horton Hears a Who. It was made into a movie in 2008. While splashing around in a pool, Horton the elephant, hears a tiny speck of dust talking to him. On the speck of dust are tiny creatures called “Who’s.” No one else can hear them – but Horton can – he’s an elephant, with elephant ears, after all.
Let me take the book in a direction Dr. Seuss didn’t go. Horton hears the Who’s – but yet he can’t enter their world. Not because he is too big – but actually because he is too small. Elephant ears are one thing – but ability is beyond him. It would take a far greater being to not only hear the Who’s, but become one of them.
There is a God who has so much power that he can do what seems to us to be almost a “logical contradiction.” Become one of us!
He also has that much love.
We tend to have little idea of God’s love. That’s what sin in human beings destroys. But God has a far greater love for us than we could imagine. If God is love – and he is (as the Bible teaches) – who can limit what this love can or will do?
God himself, in love, came to save you and me. Even if it meant becoming one of us.
God didn’t delegate the task of saving us to someone else. God didn’t send an angel. God came himself. Just as he promised, countless times in the Old Testament. Isaiah says the Saviour will himself be “Mighty God.” The LORD says through him, “My own arm has worked salvation.” “”Who then is like me?”
You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet
Now that contains an amazing promise.
It means that in the incarnation, in Jesus Christ, though he is a man from Nazareth, you can know the very love and power of God himself! Jesus is not just another speck of dust on a little planet. In him, you are found by God, you will taste of God!
And that brings us to another incredible miracle.
The King of Kings became a servant, the Author of Life was put to death. He entered our world, with all its misery and evil. So that – and here’s the second miracle – so that you and I could enter his world. He become like one of us – so that we might become like him!
We live in a world that is perishable. Death is our lot. Weakness and frailty overcome the strongest of us. That goes hand in hand with our sin, our turning away from God.
But Jesus Christ took on our flesh – so that he might also take on our sin and weakness, our darkness and death. He did this so that in him, we – little specks of dust – might again share in something far greater than the billions of galaxies. He did this so that we might share in the life of God – the life of worship and love.
He came to give us eternal life that will endure even when galaxies have vanished!
Thanks for reading!