Grammar of Grace

Nouns are names. Names are labels we put on things. “Please pass me that round sweet smelling thing with the hole in the middle.” Calling the thing a “donut” makes life easier. We put names on everything. It was the first thing that Adam did in the garden. He named things. Imagine a world without names. “Oh, I bumped into the 5’ 6" thing walking on two things topped with thin gray strand-like stuff who lives next to us in the square thing with a thing on top.” What? “Oh, you mean you bumped into Fred who lives in the house next door.” Living in a world without nouns would be nonsense. Nouns are names we give things. 

To be sure, we don’t always get the name right. Just because we label someone an “idiot” does not make it so. Putting names on things brings order out of chaos, as it puts everything in its place. The socks go in the drawer. Yes, we label things to put things neatly in their place and make life more livable. Calling someone our “servant" or the “hired help” or an “alien” says as much about what and where we are, as what and where we “think” they are. However, if both agree on a title or a name it enables a degree of order and allows us to function.

Giving God a name is something else. No one can put God in His place. Giving God a name is presumptuous. The difficulty is in the word “giving” God a name. The names of God we know are all revelations, and partial revelations at that. God is too great, too large, to transcendent. God is too un-earthly, to un-worldly, too holy for a mere mortal to utter it and live. Even the names of revelation, the ones we have been given, are not the “Sir” name of the One we call Almighty. That is unknown. We are nouns, God is more.

Verbs give sentences life. God defies our grammar. We know no tense for God. Past, Present, and Future cannot even come close to capturing the life of God who is Eternal.

Adjectives are the grammatical paint and brushes we use to color things. We use adjectives to qualify, limit, describe, or modify things. There is not enough pigment nor parchment, ink nor canvas to paint the goodness, glory or grandeur of God.

Then there are prepositions. Prepositions are wonderful little words that describe relationships. One of the most beautiful is the word “with.” “With” joins, connects, unites, brings together.

No single name for God can fully define or describe the Unknowable, yet one name given to the One called the WORD who became flesh is precious, practical, and plain enough for us utter and understand.  It is Immanuel, “God with us.”  This one name links life with life in love. The word “with” is the missing link that man is searching for. The missing link will not be found in anthropology, biology, nor genetics. It is found in the genius and generosity of a God expressed in Jesus, who although given a name which is above every name, came down to be "with” us, so we could be “with” Him forever. The alternative to being “with” God is to be “without" Him.  To be “without” God is a preposition and proposition  I find unthinkable.  

My grammar is not always good. My spelling is often imperfect. That is why I worship the Alpha and Omega.  The WORD came down, not to correct my grammar, but to give me grace.  It is not the grammar, it is the grace we find in the word “with” that makes us want to celebrate Christmas and sing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”