In order to grasp this consideration fully it is important to first define time. Time can be described as a non-spatial continuum that is measured in terms of events which succeed one another from past through present to future. Time is something that must be measured in order to have significance. Through the ages time has been measured with various instruments. For example, it has been measured with the sundial, the hourglass and the clock. It has been divided into femtoseconds, picoseconds, nanoseconds, microseconds, milliseconds, centiseconds, deciseconds, seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, fortnights, months, years, decades, centuries, and millenniums. All of these depend on the existence of our sun and the orbit of our planetary system. If the sun does not rise in the east we no longer have a reference point by which to measure time.
Eternity is easier to define. Eternity is the continual now. It does not have a beginning or an end. It cannot be divided into segments so that you can determine where you are in the span of eternity. There is no span of eternity. Even though time occurs within eternity, it does not define eternity. It does not serve as a reference point.
When we try to conceive eternity in the terms of time, our resulting concept of God is limited. When we define eternity in terms of time, God the Creator can be conceived as a divine being who created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them and has not since created. This concept of God is humanity centered rather than being Theo centric. It causes us to think that God has been limited to one grand creative spurt. It appears that humanity is the one stroke of genius that can be attributed to God. On the other hand, if we see eternity in terms of the continual now, God can be understood as One who is always creative. He can be understood as the limitless One who is continually active in the eternal now.
Another way that our concept of eternity limits our perception of God is with regard to His activity concerning the old covenant in juxtaposition to the new covenant. If He is a God limited by time then we can feasibly conceive that He acted as a hard, legalistic, judgmental Being under the old covenant but has mellowed to become a loving, kind, gentle Savior of the new covenant. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Our God is the same, yesterday, today and forever in His essence. His attributes have not altered with the passing of time. The God of the old covenant is the God of the new covenant. He is in the eternal now. He allowed His Son to be trapped for thirty-three years in the finite parenthesis of time in order to communicate His eternal, unchangeable love to mankind. The God who superintends and supersedes time cares about those His creative handiwork places in that non-spatial continuum.
Someone said, “I told God my plans and He laughed.” In like manner, we might say, “God heard what we said about Him and shook His head in disbelief.” It is indeed difficult to comprehend the infinite with a finite mind. Although this is true, we should endeavor not to limit our understanding of who He is and what He wants to do in our lives simply because we have put a collar and leash of time upon our imagination.
He can do more and is more than we can ever imagine. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)
It is time that we “un-warped” our concept of God.
by Dr. Gayle Woods