Before There Was an Everywhere, I AM

The Baltimore Catechism asked the question Where is God? The answer given was God is everywhere. While this is certainly true, it is even more true that God is beyond the concept of “where.” Everywhere is too limiting to contain God, for He transcends His creation and cannot be contained even by the “everywhere” of it.

C.S. Lewis had an interesting analogy:

Looking for God by exploring space is a bit like reading or seeing all Shakespeare’s plays in the hope that you will find Shakespeare …. Shakespeare is, in one sense, present at every moment of the play, but he is never present in the same way … but to look for him as one item within the framework he himself invented is nonsensical [The Business of Heaven, p. 47].

So, just as Shakespeare is far more than and far beyond even the sum total of all his writings, even more is God far beyond the “everywhere” of this world. God is not this or that thing. He is not here or over there. He is existence itself, the very definition of “to be” (ipsum esse).

Yet unlike Shakespeare, God is not merely bigger than and outside what He has made. God is no mere writer or creator who left an impression of himself in what he made. No, God is at the same time both transcendent and immanent. He is inside what He created, sustaining everything He made from moment to moment.

C.S. Lewis continues,

[And so with God] mere movement in space will not bring you any nearer to him or farther from him that you are at this very moment. You can neither reach him, nor avoid him by travelling to … other galaxies [ibid].

This of course raises the question: Why do we attribute a special presence to Christ in the Eucharist or the tabernacles of our churches? Like the ancient Jews, who found a special presence of God in the Ark of the Covenant in the Temple, we do not lack sophistication. We understand that God is not merely in this place or that one, but we do accept by His own revelation that He is uniquely and powerfully present in certain places and in certain ways designated by Him to confer that special presence. Thus, while God speaks in and through His creation, He speaks even more clearly and powerfully in his revealed Word. And while He is everywhere immanently present, He is profoundly present in a special way in the Eucharist and in certain holy places.

In the end, God is everywhere, but he is also “beyond where,” “beneath where,” and “above where.” He is God, who said, “Before there ever was an everywhere, I AM.”