By Ben Swift
‘The Triune God is full of Grace. He gave His own reflection five senses to appreciate His beautiful creation. And with His own finger He delicately wrote His law of love on His little mirror as He breathed life into him.’ (Cullan McKinlay)
It can take you to a remarkable place within your consciousness when you begin to comprehend that each one of us was created to reflect God’s glory, purposefully crafted in His image. Nothing else could be more important in life than living in communion with the One who knows us better than we know ourselves.
People reflect God in so many ways and not always as predicted or expected. Several years ago I attended an Anglican church in which the senior minister left me with a simple yet lasting piece of insight. Each morning he would get up before sunrise and spend time walking quietly, just himself and his maker, listening, reflecting, praying and enjoying time out of the world’s insanity.
Walking with God in this way is by no means a new concept, but in the crazy world in which we live, I suspect it is a dying or at least a fading practise. Perhaps a lesser known biblical character, Enoch, a member of Adam’s family, knew this well as he provides us through Scripture with a way of deepening our relationship with the Triune God.
‘So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.’ (Genesis 5:23-24)
God took Enoch! What this infers is that amongst the vast numbers of people who have lived on the Earth, only two never died according to Scripture. Enoch and Elijah. This raises the question, “Why?” “What is it about Enoch that separated him from the pack and what can we learn from his ways?”
Andrew Bonar suggests that God and Enoch were in the habit of taking a long walk together every day and that one day God said to his companion, “Why go home? Come all the way with Me.” And so it was that God took Enoch directly to live in His presence.
While we shouldn’t place our hope in sharing Enoch’s direct assumption into God’s dimension, we as followers of Christ can learn a lot from the way of Enoch. Here we find a man of outstanding sanctity who enjoyed intimate fellowship with God. It has also been suggested that the example of Enoch’s assumption played a part in the origin of Jewish hope for life with God beyond death, an assurance now made clear through what has been achieved through Christ in His death and resurrection.
As we look to be inspired by the life of Enoch, we come to see the development of a great faith, one that was built over time, strengthened continually in the presence of the Heavenly Father.
‘By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found because God had taken him”, for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.’ (Hebrews 11:5-6)
As with the gift of the human mind’s ability to reason, faith in God is also a gift. Our understanding of the gift of faith cannot be separated from our understanding of God’s Grace in that we as people can do nothing to earn it. We can therefore only receive it with joyful and open arms as we embark on our journey to know the Triune God more deeply.
The gift of grace received by faith has the power to take us beyond the foolishness of human reason and philosophy alone. Luther understood this well, a concept that paved the way to a reformation that would change the world. Oswald Bayer in reflecting on Luther’s thoughts suggests, “The image of God for the human being consists in the fact that the individual is the representative of God and is the one responsible for carrying out his mandates here on earth. Whoever is not satisfied with being an instrument of God and with being one who carries out his mandates destroys and misdirects the proper way to act in the image of God by glorifying himself instead, wrongly applying what was promised to him – the ability to reason using language.” Surely Enoch because he pleased God, must have had a strong understanding of what it truly means to be a human being, created in God’s image.
It would make sense to ask at this point, “What is this faith that Enoch and followers of Christ identify with?” It is the gift of being able to hear the gospel message and respond to what has been finished once and for all through Christ in His death and resurrection. It is the recognition of the reality of who God is and who we are as His creation.
We would all do well to learn from the way of Enoch, walking closely with God, closing our ears to Sinatra’s words of, “I did it my way,” and instead living as God intended, in His Grace. Perhaps a good place to embark on this journey would be to reflect on the following prayer by A.W. Tozer:
“O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need of further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made more thirsty still. Show me Thy glory, I pray Thee, that so I may know Thee indeed. Begin in mercy a new work of love within me. Say to my soul, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.” Then give me grace to rise and follow Thee up from this misty lowland where I have wandered so long.”