In Australia I heard a worship song that was new for me: “There is no-one like you.”
Not the Dave Crowder one. This one is, almost note-for-note, sung to the tune of “What if God was one of us.” To the point where the urge to sing “…just a slob like one of us” became almost unbearable.
But actually “There is no-one like you” and “What if God was one of us” is an interesting juxtaposition. And quite a biblical one.
Since ancient times no-one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. (Isaiah 64:4)
What is it that sets the living God apart from every other deity conceived by the imagination of man? This God works while we wait. That’s the difference.
Every other god waits while we work. But this God works while we wait. “His own Arm works salvation for Him” (Isaiah 59:16). The Arm of the LORD (Isaiah 52:10) who is the Servant of the LORD (v13; 53:1) – He achieves our redemption for us.
When we think of the utter uniqueness of God, where do our thoughts take us? When we conceive of the transcendent glory of God, what do we imagine? And how biblical are those conceptions?
From “There is no one like you” so often we take a left and descend a flight of stairs to “God is just really, really, completely and utterly different.” Ok, but then we cross a barbed wire fence and enter a haunted wood… “He’s so totally other, we can’t even begin to relate.” And we continue wandering down such darkened paths with the especially religious among us revelling in the murk.
People take a similar journey when discussing concepts of “glory” or “holiness” or “transcendence.”
Ah yes, now we’re talking about the real Godness of God.
Indeed. But if God really is so different then it won’t be obvious what that Godness consists in will it? Or don’t you believe in His difference after all?!
You can’t just take some bog-standard definition of deity, pump it full of steroids, and then call that “glory” or “holiness” or “transcendence”. You’ll have to study how this utterly different God shows Himself to be utterly different.
And – surprise, surprise – even His difference turns out to be different to how we’d imagined it. His difference is not in some alien detachment but in intimate engagement. His glory is not His self-obsession but self-giving. His holiness is not His shut-off-ness but His committed devotion. His transcendence does not keep Him from us, it’s a transcendent love that moves heaven to earth to save.
There is no-one like this God. The God who comes as one of us. Just a Slob like one of us. Just a Stranger on the bus, come to bring us all Home.
That’s what makes Him really different.