Addition By Subtraction

    At a church meeting not long ago someone who I don’t know well made an interesting statement. It was to the effect that we are all like candles and that God is this vast dark room and that each of us contributes a little light that progressively reveals God–the importance being that we need each other’s contribution to really see and experience God.  I was taken by this image and have rolled it around in my thoughts quite a lot since then. I have no idea if that was an original simile/metaphor or based on something that he’d read, but it struck me at the time as possibly brilliant.

    While I was walking the other morning the verse came to me about God living in “unapproachable light” (I Tim. 6:16)– a light so bright that no man can see Him and live. In Exodus 33, Moses asks God to show him His glory. What God shows him is His “goodness”–but Moses can’t look on this square on and neither can we and live–God’s goodness is simply too powerful, too radiant. We would be toast. 

    It also occurred to me as I was walking that perhaps each believer subtracts just a few photons and thus God becomes a bit more visible, a bit more approachable–but probably not. It was just a thought. 

    Of course, the main point of Jesus’ Advent here on Earth is putting the only Face on God that we’ll ever see–or need to see–and that Face is revealed by the Holy Spirit.  At several points in the O.T. we are urged to seek God’s Face, but of course the only Face we can see is that of Jesus. And that Face won’t burn us to a crisp, and so that must have been the Face the O.T. writers were talking about.

    In the NASB version of Phil. 2:8, Jesus “emptied Himself” and became a man–a man obedient even to death on a cross. Most versions say “humbled himself” but I kind of like emptied. It was addition by subtraction.  And it was done for the love of you and me. We would do well to do likewise, and “empty” ourselves–not, of course, of God,  just the little god we call self. In doing that subtracting we would surely add blessing to others, and to ourselves as well.


About diospsytrek

I am a licensed mental health counselor in Florida. I am also the author of four books. The books have to do with coping with depression and other mood disorders, and the nexus of psychological problems and spiritual warfare.
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