Editor’s Note: The Theology in the Everyday series seeks to introduce and explain theological concepts in 500 words or less, with a 200-word section helping explain the doctrine to kids. At For The Church, we believe that theology should not be designated to the academy alone but lived out by faith in everyday life. We hope this series will present theology in such a way as to make it enjoyable, connecting theological ideas to everyday experience and encouraging believers to study theology for the glory of God and the good of the Church. This week, the Spirituality of God.
How often do you think of the spirituality of God? After all, Jesus upheld God’s spirituality when he told the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well that “God is spirit” (John 4:24). But do we know what that means? For many, the term ‘spirituality’ has become a vague and perhaps fearsome notion used by new-agey folk to describe their ever-elusive conception of God or ‘the divine’. Others hear the word and recall the famous (though just as vague) phrase, “I’m spiritual but not religious.” All the while, the biblical and time-tested doctrine of God’s spirituality fades into the fog of misconception, leaving us in desperate need of what Lewis called ‘the clean sea breeze of the centuries’1 to blow through our minds and re-awaken us to the beauty of this doctrine.
One strong sea breeze, called the Westminster Confession of Faith, upholds God’s spirituality in this way: “There is but one only living and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions. . .” (2.1.). Notice the logic: the spirituality of God—His being a ‘most pure spirit’—necessitates that He is ‘invisible’ and ‘without body, parts, or passions’. The former characteristic is somewhat easier to grasp, for it lines up well with our everyday experience of faith in Christ: “Though you have not seen him, you love him… and believe in him” (1 Pet 1:8). The latter are slightly more dicult to grasp, for they beckon us beyond human experience by reminding us that God is not confined to such tiny things as space and time and physicality. Instead, God “exceeds all in the nature of being… [having] nothing gross, heavy or material in his essence.”2 Thus, to uphold the spirituality of God is to bask in wonder at His infinite perfections and eternal glory. To deny God’s spirituality is to “exchange the truth about God for a lie, and to worship and serve what has been created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever” (Rom 1:25).
The spirituality of God reminds us that we—created, physical, and finite beings—must continually remember two things as we ponder His majesty. First, we must let our thoughts of the One who is an infinite and eternal spirit rise above all that we can see, taste, touch, hear, and smell. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, we must never grow dull to the reality that this same infinite, invisible, and immaterial God “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
For the Kids
Hey kids! The spirituality of God is another way of talking about the invisible bigness of God. As part of God’s creation, you and I are small and fragile and made up of (rather funny!) things like arms and legs and fingers and toes. We even get mad and upset and angry from time to time. Thankfully, God is not like us.
Since God is the Creator and not a creature, there was never a time in the beginning when someone said, “Let there be God!” As amazing as it sounds, God already was, and since He already was, He is not made up of anything in the whole world. This is why God tells Moses, “I am who I am” (Ex 3:14). There’s simply nobody like our invisible, big God!
So, when we say that God is ‘a spiritual Being’ we are saying that God is [kind of] like the wind. Think about it: you can feel the wind on your skin; you can hear the wind in your ears; and you can see the effects of the wind on things like trees, leaves, and dirty dusty streets! But at the end of the day, you can’t actually see the wind, can you?
The same is true of God. We can’t see Him with our eyes, and we can’t hear Him with our ears. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t know God with our minds or feel God in our hearts or see God at work in the world around us! In fact, because God is a spiritual Being, He can be anywhere He wants to be and do anything He wants to do, whenever and wherever He wants. Our God simply has no limits!
So, kiddo, the next time you go outside and feel the wind blowing all around you, remember: you worship an amazing, invisible God!
1. C.S. Lewis, On the Incarnation.
2. Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God (Vol. I), 271.