This is the last one in the series. If you're interested there's also a full, printable, PDF version of Communication, Knowledge, Bodies and God.
An Embodied God?
If understanding the bible is made difficult because of temporal, geographic and cultural differences, it becomes even more difficult when I try and understand things from the perspective of a transcendent God—one who has always existed, is everywhere, knows everything, and is all powerful. We said earlier that all humans have a couple of things in common: a body and a brain. The Almighty is spirit. Spirits, by definition, don’t have bodies. They don’t inhabit the world of matter. How then can we hope to understand him?
Of course, Christians believe that, in Jesus, God became a man with a body and experienced real, bodily experiences. This is one thing which differentiates Christianity from most other religions. God didn’t just make himself look like a man for a little while in order to have sex with a particularly pretty female who took his fancy—no, he was born to a real mother, and lived as a real human being. He lived the whole thing as one of us—birth to death, and then some.
… Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross.
—Philippians 2:5–8 (HCSB)
Because of Jesus, God himself knows, from personal experience, what it is like to have a human body. He knows what it is to only be able to see in one direction; to have eyeballs and ears and to feel hungry. But it also works the other way. In Jesus, God did more than answer the ‘what if God was one of us?’ question. In Jesus, God shows us what he is like in a way that we can understand.
Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by [His] Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things and through whom He made the universe. He is the radiance of His glory, the exact expression of His nature, and He sustains all things by His powerful word. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
—Hebrews 1:1–3 (HCSB)
“God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see”*—this God has made himself known by becoming a human being. In Christ we see the visible image of the invisible God.†
So, God himself answered the question of how a transcendent, spiritual God could communicate about himself to finite, embodied mortals. The immortal took on mortal flesh and showed himself to us. We can know God because he has made himself known. It may still be difficult, but so is learning to speak another language. Surely learning to see things God’s way takes even more of a mental shift, but is much, much more rewarding in the end.