“Our limits teach us the fear of the Lord. They are reminders that keep us from falsely believing that we can be like God. When I reach the limits of my strength, I worship the One whose strength never flags. When I reach the limit of my reason, I worship the One whose reason is beyond searching out…but we don’t just want limitlessness for ourselves-we tend to want it for others as well” (p. 26-27).
In None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different From Us (And Why That’s A Good Thing), Jen Wilkin examines the 10 attributes of God that make Him entirely different from the humans He created. Rather than a theological treatise, it is instead a conversational book that focuses on the practical implications of God’s limitlessness, and how that should change the way we view Him, ourselves, and others.
The book begins with a discussion of God’s general infinitude, and our human tendency to want to measure and assign a knowable value to everyone and everything. As the book progresses Wilkin then unpacks His infinitude in the specific areas of His mystery, creativity, provision, time, sameness, place, knowledge, power, and rule. Her premise is that these incommunicable attributes are the very attributes that we attempt to achieve for ourselves, against the very plan and purpose of God. She states, “…human beings created to bear the image of God instead aspire to become like God. Designed to reflect His glory, we choose instead to rival it. We do so by reaching for those attributes that are only true of God, those suited only to a limitless being…rejecting our God-given limits and craving the limitlessness we foolishly believe we are capable of wielding and entitled to possess” (p. 23).
This perspective on the attributes of God is both profound and pragmatic. I found myself especially meditative and thankful for the reminder that God, the only One who is truly self-sufficient, did not design me with that same trait; rather than despise my insufficiencies and continue to strive in vain toward total independence, I can surrender to God and allow His perfect sufficiency to satisfy my every need and lack. Likewise, His perfectly limitless knowledge comforts me in my tendency to need answers and understanding for processing my life. Rather than attempt limitless knowledge on my own, I can bow to His perfect, complete, comprehensive knowledge of the beginning from the end and trust Him implicitly.
Wilkin’s argument goes beyond our tendency to grasp for God’s attributes for ourselves. She asserts that we expect other people to share His attributes of perfection and limitlessness in the ways that they deal with us, only to be left disappointed. “Only God can say with utter turhtfulness that his love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Only God can rightly say that His love will never fail…How much more willing might we be to replace the always and never language of our human arguments for the language of grace and forgiveness if we could just recognize that we cannot ask another human to be our God?” (p. 90). I found this such a fresh and practical way to allow meditation on God’s attributes to permeate every relationship in my life.
Overall, I’d recommend None Like Him. It is not a comprehensive Bible study on God’s attributes, although she does use Scripture as the basis for her arguments. After reading it, I didn’t have any desire to use it in a book club or study group; however, with the right group and timing it might be great for that. But it was a useful book for meditating on and viewing God’s incommunicable attributes in a fresh, practical way.