Saturday, 5 June 2010

Your God is Too Small

From J.B. Phillips' Your God is Too Small:

The trouble with many people today is that they have not found a God big enough for modern needs. While their experience of life has grown in a score of directions, and their mental horizons have been expanded to the point of bewilderment by world events and by scientific discoveries, their ideas of God have remained largely static. It is obviously impossible for an adult to worship the conception of God that exists in the mind of a child of Sunday-school age, unless he is prepared to deny his own experience of life. If, by a great effort of will, he does do this he will always be secretly afraid lest some new truth may expose the juvenility of his faith. And it will always be by such an effort that he either worships or serves a God who is really too small to command his adult loyalty and co-operation.

It often appears to those outside the Churches that this is precisely the attitude of Christian people. If they are not strenuously defending an outgrown conception of God, then they are cherishing a hothouse God who could only exist between the pages of the Bible or inside the four walls of a Church. Therefore to join in with the worship of a Church would be to become a party to a piece of mass-hypocrisy and to buy a sense of security at the price of the sense of truth, and many men of goodwill will not consent to such a transaction.

It cannot be denied that there is a little truth in this criticism. There are undoubtedly professing Christians with childish conceptions of God which could not stand up to the winds of real life for five minutes. But Christians are by no means always unintelligent, naive, or immature. Many of them hold a faith in God that has been both purged and developed by the strains and perplexities of modern times, as well as by a small but by no means negligible direct experience of God Himself. They have seen enough to know that God is immeasurably "bigger" than our forefathers imagined, and modern scientific discovery only confirms their belief that man has only just begun to comprehend the incredibly complex Being who is behind what we call "life."

Many men and women today are living, often with inner dissatisfaction, without any faith in God at all. This is not because they are particularly wicked or selfish or, as the old-fashioned would say, "godless," but because they have not found with their adult minds a God big enough to "account for" life, big enough to "fit in with" the new scientific age, big enough to command their highest admiration and respect, and consequently their willing co-operation...

If it is true that there is Someone in charge of the whole mystery of life and death, we can hardly expect to escape a sense of futility and frustration until we begin to see what He is like and what His purposes are.

I can't recommend this book too highly. It says, with pith and measured reason, so much of what I long to say. You can read the rest of it (for free!) in pdf here.


Robert said...

Excellent post jennypo!!! It is amazing to me the pride that exists about the human intellect. Intelligent as we may be, it boggles the mind to think we cannot grasp that an Almighty God really is at work always and always with us. I think a followup to your post is to consider all the reasons why our minds and hearts seem to be disconnected alot from this genuine truth of what you speak of. Stop by my place again when you get a chance :)

jennypo said...

Hi Robert - thanks for stopping by.
This is an interesting question. I really think our problem is not what we understand, but what we want. The more we want of ourselves, the less we know of God. We are disconnected from Him not because we fail to see, but because we try to satisfy our desire for Him with other things. It isn't God's fault that those things keep us dissatisfied. When we desire Him, He will fill up our emptinesses, but we never like to leave ourselves in the state of wanting anything for too long, do we?

'Happy those hungering and thirsting for righteousness -- because they shall be filled.' Matthew 5:6

Jim Killebrew said...

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Jim Killebrew

David C Brown said...

We need to get past man's God to the real God who has revealed Himself so blessedly in Christ.