The changelessness of God manifests itself in all His Infinities. For instance, He is omnipresent. He is everywhere at once, and that will never change. That means I can never be away from His Presence. David was overwhelmed by this realization…
Psalm 139:1-12 (NASB) Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I get up; You understand my thought from far away. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, Lord, You know it all. You have encircled me behind and in front, and placed Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot comprehend it.
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take up the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will take hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,” even darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.
And since God is Infinite, I am not the only one who is always in His presence. All of us are always in the presence of our Creator, every relationship we have with another person – another child of God – exists in His Presence. More than that, because our ability to love comes from His eternal Love, every relationship of love always involves three people: You, me, and God. And this is at the heart of Jesus’ admonition in the Sermon on the Mount, when He tells us,
Matthew 7:1-5 Judge not, that ye may not be judged; for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you. But why lookest thou on the mote that is in the eye of thy brother, but observest not the beam that is in thine eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Allow [me], I will cast out the mote from thine eye; and behold, the beam is in thine eye? Hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine eye, and then thou wilt see clearly to cast out the mote out of the eye of thy brother.
The consequence of living in the Presence of the Judge
The fact that God is omnipresent means that in any relationship between me and you, He is equally Present for me and you… But we tend to forget that.
(Soren Kierkegaard’s analysis of this point is so good that I cannot add anything to his words. So, I will quote freely here below from his Works of Love, as translated by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong, in Kierkegaard’s Writings, XVI, Volume 16, Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition. (Kierkegaard’s words are all in italics.))
…a person deludes himself into thinking that he himself for his part relates himself to God and on the other hand that with regard to another person he relates himself only to the other person rather than that in everything he relates himself to God.
This dynamic comes to a head when we hurt each other. When that happens, we call on God to be the judge and want Him to render His verdict in our favor. But that is a dangerous thing to do because of what Kierkegaard calls God’s divine rule of like-for-like.
Therefore to accuse another person before God is to accuse oneself like for like. If someone is actually wronged, humanly speaking, then may he take care lest he be carried away in accusing the guilty one before God.
Ah, we are so willing to deceive ourselves, we are so willing to deceive ourselves into thinking that a person for his part should have a private relation to God. But the relation to God is like the relation to the authorities; you cannot speak privately with a public authority about something that is his business—but God’s business is to be God.
And that is the key: God is God. He cannot change. He cannot cease to be God for everybody.
In your opinion, God should, so to speak, take your side, God and you together should turn against your enemy, against the one who did you wrong. But this is a misunderstanding. God looks impartially at all and is wholly and completely what you want to make him only in part.
This is another consequence of His Infinity. To be Judge, Impartial, He must be Judge of all equally… He cannot be less. He cannot only be Judge in my favor. Which is why He gave us that warning in the Sermon on the Mount. He wants to spare us the consequences of being judged.
If you address him in his capacity as judge—yes, it is leniency on his part that he warns you to desist, because he is well aware of the consequences for you, how rigorous it will become for you; but if you refuse to listen, if you address him in his capacity as judge, it does not help that you mean he is supposed to judge someone else, because you yourself have made him into your judge, and he is, like for like, simultaneously your judge—that is, he judges you also. But if you do not engage in accusing someone before God or in making God into a judge, then God is the gracious God.
The key here is that whether He is lenient toward me (not judging me) or rigorous (judging me), it is all up to me… because He does not change. I choose what I get from Him, by choosing what I want Him to be.
The wall is immovable. Whether I hurt myself or not is all up to me: whether I choose to beat my head against it or I choose to lean on it for rest.
Kierkegaard then gives an illustration:
Let me illustrate this by an incident. There was once a criminal who had stolen some money, including a hundred-rix-dollar bill. He wanted to change this bill and turned to another criminal at the latter’s house. The second criminal took the bill, went into the next room as if to change it, came out again, acted as if nothing had happened, and greeted the waiting visitor as if they were seeing each other for the first time—in short, he defrauded him out of the hundred-rix-dollar bill.
The first criminal became so furious over this that in his resentment he notified the authorities of the matter, how shamefully he had been defrauded. The second criminal was of course imprisoned and charged with fraud—but alas, the first question the authorities raised in this case was: How did the plaintiff get the money?
Thus there were two cases. The first criminal understood quite correctly that he was in the right in the case of the fraud; now he wanted to be the honest man, the good citizen who appeals to the authorities to obtain his rights. Ah, but the authorities do not function privately or take up any isolated matter it pleases someone to lay before them, nor do they always give the case the turn the plaintiff and the informer give it—the authorities look more deeply into the circumstances.
This is what happens when we judge another, when we bring charges against them before God.
If you accuse another person before God, two actions are instituted immediately: Precisely when you come and inform on the other person, God begins to think about how you are involved.
Is this realization enough to give me pause? It depends on how well I truly understand what is going on. It depends most of all on whether or not I remember the words with which Jesus began the proclamation of the Good News: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”