There is one question that we seem obsessed with. Have we made our God too small? I must have heard it a million times and it is a particular favourite at the beginning of a new year. However, whenever I hear this question posed it always strikes me that this is not really what is being asked. The question is actually are our plans sufficiently ambitious and audacious so that God will be shown to be totally on our side and appear mighty and powerful when He blesses us and makes them happen in a miraculous way? If this is the case, then I would suggest that behind the question is actually a lack of trust in God which those who pose it would be shocked to concede. The issue for me is rather than trying to make God do what we think He should in as high profile a manner as possible, we need to acknowledge where He is already at work in His world and partner with Him to see His transforming plan for humanity fulfilled. Just one example of how this operates is in seeing people come to a saving faith. We sing how God is the author of salvation, yet when we get into a conversation with a non-Christian feel the need to explain the gospel and seal the deal with the sinners’ prayer in case they die that night and go to hell because we have not done what we should when we got the chance. Yet it always amazes me how when you listen to someone who has not yet acknowledged Christ as Lord, more often than not God has already begun to reveal Himself through their questions and search for meaning, in conversations with others or in dreams and other spiritual experiences that cannot easily be explained away. Thus if you are ever tempted to ask if you have made God too small, a better question might be are you willing to let God be God? And are you ready to be obedient in whatever He asks of you so that you can help fulfil His amazing, life-giving plan? Size really is not the issue, surrender is!
There is nothing worse than seeing the person you love most in the world in pain and torment. I remember when I was a child seeing my Dad in the depths of depression and just wishing with all my heart that I could make the hurting stop. I felt so utterly powerless and yet knew that somehow by just being there I was helping. I was at least in it with him and was a witness to the rawness of his grief and despair. The worst of times as a parent is seeing your child in pain, whether that is physical or emotional, and knowing that you cannot do anything to take it away. You do not have the power and sometimes it is actually right to let them experience the consequences of mistakes or deliberate wrong choices in order to save them from worse later on. It is in this context that I have been meditating on the verse, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him should not perish but may have eternal life.”
I have spent a good deal of my Christian life railing against God for my own suffering and those of others and yet in this one verse is the ultimate statement of His death-defying love and all-consuming power to intervene to relieve our misery and hopelessness. Perhaps rather than being sidetracked by the ‘cosmic child abuse’ lens to Christ’s death on the cross, we should focus on the depths of God’s love and His willingness to take responsibility for all that is wrong with this life by dealing with it personally and decisively, once and for all. We may not enjoy the fullness of this now, but one day the full magnitude of it will hit us like a train and we will spend eternity marvelling at its enormity. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, there will be the usual hollow and often obscene pronouncements of love which can cause us to despair at the shallowness and baseness of humanity. But maybe it should actually just reveal to us with greater and truer clarity the One who is love and faithfulness and be motivated to more faithfully embody and demonstrate His love and goodness to others.