When Sentiment Drives Your Theology
Mothers’ Day is coming up this Sunday. It’s a time to express love and appreciation to our mothers, which of course we should do often, not just on this particular day. Mothers’ Day evokes an outpouring of sentiment for our mothers, expressed through cards, flowers, a nice meal out, and a phone call if you and your mother are separated by distance. When sentiment energizes your appreciation for mothers, that’s great. But when sentiment drives your theology, that’s dangerous.
There’s an old adage that usually resurfaces this time of year—“God couldn’t be everywhere, so He made mothers.” I’ve seen this saying on the internet. I’ve seen this saying on church signs. I’ve even heard it said from the pulpit. And I am convinced that many people believe it. I understand the sentiment behind the saying. But in an attempt to make mothers feel special, we can easily slip into heresy. Contrary to the belief that God created mothers because He couldn’t be everywhere, God is everywhere. God is omnipresent. That’s a fancy way of saying that God is everywhere at all times. The Bible frequently teaches the omnipresence of God. He is not limited by space or time.
The omnipresence of God is one of the most difficult doctrines of the entire Bible. The question, “Where is God?” is a very important question. The seeker wants to know…and so does the skeptic… and so does the hurting person who feels abandoned by the Almighty. “Where is God when I need Him?” The guilty sinner also wants to know where God is—so he can run the other way and escape the presence of God.
Sometimes we want the nearness of God. We seek the comfort that comes from being aware that the Lord is with us. But there are times when the presence of God makes us uncomfortable. So, we like the idea of establishing boundaries for God, of keeping Him at a “safe” distance. We like to think of God, at least subconsciously, as “residing” in certain places, like in heaven, or in church. And then we “leave” Him there, and go and do as we please, with the fond hope He will leave us alone. But the truth is, you never leave the presence of God. You cannot “rope off” certain areas of your life, as if God were not there. He is with you everywhere—and that means everywhere!
There is no escaping God. There is no place to hide from Him. There is no corner of the universe where God is not. I’ve heard people say that Hell is the absence of God’s presence, but even in Hell, God is fully present—but in the fullness of His divine wrath. There’s no way we can escape God. For those who want nothing to do with God, that’s a terrifying thought. But for those who love Him, being aware of His presence in every place is a source of incredible comfort.
They say that mothers have eyes in the backs of their heads; thus they seem to never miss a single thing. But mothers do occasionally close their eyes. Not so with God. He never sleeps nor slumbers. His eyes never close. He never misses a single thing. He doesn’t just seem to be everywhere. He is everywhere. He, and He alone is omnipresent.