Los Alamos Church of Christ
Last week we began the Sensate Temperament.
The sensate connects to God through their senses; taste, touch, smell, sound and sight. The sensate’s heart is drawn closer to God in the appreciation of beauty. God is beauty. God is seen in beauty. There is something in each of us that is awed in the presence of the amazing. For the sensate this is the way they connect to God! Intricate architecture, creativity engineering, stirring music, stained glass, sculpture, a delicious banquet, even an inspirational movie… can open the sensate’s heart to connect with God.
The surprising thing, to me, was when we took the test last week we scored 30 on the Sensate Temperament Test. And there are several suspected Sensates who haven’t taken the test yet. This is our highest score. These tests are not perfect. I just make them up… but if there is any truth in this score… that tells us something. We need to learn to maximize our connections to God through the senses.
It is easy to forget sometimes that God is beauty. We focus on forgiveness and grace and mercy and holiness. Or we look at the world where there is confusion, pain, prejudice… such discord. All this distracts us from a God of beauty. It is easy to lose sight of a God who created beauty. It is easy to forget that in our hearts is this magnetic attraction to an omni-splendorous Creator. The Sensate points our hearts back to the beauty of God. That is a precious gift.
--The intellect reminds us to keep our theology pure.
--The Caregiver reminds us to serve Jesus by serving each other.
--The Traditionalist points to an unchanging God as seen in ritual.
--The Enthusiast raises our spirits as we connect to The Spirit.
--But the Sensate reminds us… our God is beautiful!
However, however, regrettably, Sensates face a real danger. Before I tell you about this danger, I want us to put our sensate hats on the shelf and take our thinking caps off the shelf. I need to engage the intellectual temperament for a minute…
What I want us to process with our intellectual temperament is the tension between Immanence and Transcendence. All the intellectuals just perked up. Caregivers are going…really. Immanence and Transcendence; here is the tension…
Immanence speaks to how God is within creation. Immanence describes how God indwells; how God permeates our universe. Immanence points to verses such as…
ESV Jeremiah 23:23-24 "Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God afar off? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.”
ESV Psalm 139:7-10 Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
ESV Colossians 1:15-17 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities- all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Immanence speaks to how God is alive and moving and permeates our existence. Immanence is the aspect of God which interacts with his creation.
Now, Transcendence speaks of a God who is the creator, who sits on the throne above his creation. The Creator who is not created; the designer who is not designed; the omnipotent one who is never acted upon… Transcendence is apart.
Transcendence points to such verses as…
ESV Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
ESV Psalm 113:4-6 The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens! Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth?
ESV Isaiah 40:28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.
ESV Romans 11:33-36 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?" "Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?" For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
God is all-powerful. God is unknowable. God is not man. God is not manipulated. God sits on his sovereign throne ruling over all creation!
There is a tension between Immanence and Transcendence. Is God above us or is God with us? Is the LORD untouchable or does he dwell within his people? What do we do with these passages which seem to point us in different directions? What do we do with Immanence and Transcendence? Which is right?
I would like to advocate that they both are correct. We need to hold both concepts equality in our brains. I like Acts 17 which states both…
ESV Acts 17:24-28 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands,(Transcendence) as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. (Transcendence) And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. (Transcendence)Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “In him we live and move and have our being.” (Immanence)
ESV Ephesians 4:6 One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Both are true. Try to get your head around that. The paradox is that God is both Immanent and Transcendent. God is above all, the creator who has chosen to reveal himself to us. This Sovereign God has given us His Spirit to dwell within us.
Now let’s go back to the danger which faces the Sensate…
If you do not embrace both Immanence and Transcendence; if you get off of either bus to ride the other one all by yourself, you can have theological problems.
If you get off the Immanence bus and embrace only Transcendence you quickly become a deist. “God lives in his heavens. God has very little to do with us. God is creator, but he doesn’t really interact with us much. Maybe, miracles used to happen, but not much anymore. We are basically on our own.” If God is only Transcendent, then, it is easy to be a deist.
If you get off the Transcendence bus and only ride Immanence, you quickly forget the awe of God. You forget the majesty; the otherness; the power. God is reduced to the ordinary. God is all around. God is in everything. With no majesty, you can easily become a pantheist. Pantheist, whether acknowledged or not, view everything as god. Since everything contains God… Everything is God. The pantheist easily begins to worship everything as God.
Either bus without the other brings us to danger for the Sensate…
The danger for all of us, but particularly the Sensate, is Idolizing beauty. Created things of beauty can become the objects of worship, rather than provide connections God. I say idolizing literally; the making of an idol of created beauty. Without both the immanence and the transcendence of God without both concepts solidly in mind, the Sensate may worship the created thing.
If God is not around them; if God is off in heaven somewhere over the rainbow, then what I create is what I create. I am the Creator. The Sensate worships the creator of the art and/or the art itself rather than the creator… who is distant.
Without immanence, beauty can steal the Sensate’s heart instead of connecting them to God.
On the other hand, without transcendence everything is God, then everything is a god. The pantheist worships the beautiful thing, the piece of art is god. The Sensate with only immanence creates art to be worshipped. They end up in the same place… making an idol of beauty.
“Bottom line it for me Tim. This time make it simple…
The Sensate, who has bad theology, ends up worshipping beauty, instead of the Beautiful One. This is the danger… many Sensates in our world only connect to the created thing. Art is for art’s sake. The art is all that matters. This is sad. Some of the most gifted artists live without God. Much of the beauty that is created is worshipped apart from God.
But it gets sadder…the collection of beautiful things becomes materialism. We have to have. Beautiful things are worshipped. The love of things. The collection of things. The accumulation of beautiful things is idol worship. People horde beautiful things because it is worship for them of the things. Rather than pointing them to God… stuff replaces God.
Many wonderful artists do art without God. There is no flow of praise to God. There is no flow from God to create. This is a show stopper for the Sensate.
To bottom line it positively…
The Sensate who connects to God brings glory to the throne… transcendence!
The Sensate who connects to God for the flow of creativity brings the beauty of the LORD into this world... immanence.
Let me suggest a fun activity and a practical suggestion to help the Sensate avoid idolizing beauty…
First, here is a handout to color… while you are coloring… repeat the Sensate’s Shema…
SENSATE Mark 12:29-30 “Hear, O Artist: The Lord our Immanent God, the Lord is the Transcendent one. You shall love the Lord your God…
…with all your heart, given passionately to your art.
…with all your soul, connected to the beauty of the LORD.
…with all your mind, knowing your talent comes from Him.
…with all your strength, offered to recreate His beauty.”
My temperament is God’s gift to me.
My temperament is my gift to God.
My temperament is my gift to the body.
My temperament is my gift to the world.
June 5, 2016
Los Alamos Church of Christ