Your God Is Too Small
Rev. Bryn MacPhail
One of my greatest challenges every Sunday is a challenge that may surprise you. My
greatest challenge each and every Sunday is to avoid blaspheming God from this pulpit.
No, it's not that I'm lacking confidence in my theology. And it's not that I'm lacking
confidence in interpreting the Scriptures. It's just that, each Sunday, I am keenly
aware of the human tendency to worship a god that is smaller than the God revealed
in the Bible.
A.W. Tozer is correct when he says that, 'What comes to our mind when we think about
God is the most important thing about us'(Tozer, Knowledge Of The Holy
, 1). Since what we believe about God is so vital, we must constantly be on guard
against worshipping a god that is smaller than the biblical God. Worshipping a god
that is smaller than the real God is the essence of idolatry--and it is a sin we
are all guilty of.
Go ahead and picture God in your mind, right now. Try to imagine His holiness. Try
imagine His character. Try to imagine His infinitude. Guess what? You all, inevitably,
just pictured a God that is too small. Our highest thoughts of God do not do justice
to His greatness. That is why Paul is quick to confess, "How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the
mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?
"(Rom. 11:33, 34).
Should we throw up our arms then, and give up our pursuit of knowing God? If acquiring
an exhaustive portrait of God is impossible for the human mind, is the study of theology
futile? No--in fact, our tendency to want to shrink God down to a manageable, unthreatening size, necessitates that we read the Scriptures all the more!
Just because I will never be perfect in this lifetime does not mean I should give
up the pursuit of holiness. In the same way, just because our knowledge of God will
never be exhaustive or perfect does not mean we can be lethargic in our efforts to
learn about God.
Tozer is, once again, right when he insists that 'The heaviest obligation lying upon
the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God'(Tozer, Knowledge Of The Holy
, 6). This is my goal for today and everyday--to elevate and magnify, as best as is
humanly possible, the measureless power and greatness of Almighty God.
We can do this, of course, only by turning to the God of the Bible. If our beliefs
about God are to be worthy of Him, they must come from the Bible. It is not enough
to simply say, 'I believe God is'--you must have a basis for your belief. If I said
to you that I believe every dog has 5 legs, what would you say? I hope you would say that
my personal belief has no bearing on things that are a matter of fact. In the same
way, just because you believe something doesn't make it true. Our understanding of God must be entirely shaped from the Scriptures
Desiring to magnify the greatness of God, our 'telescope' for this morning is 2 verses
from Isaiah 40--verses 25 and 26. In verse 25, God is asks the question, "To whom then will you liken to Me, that I should be his equal?
God wants us to know that there is nothing in the universe that we can liken to Him.
God wants us to understand that He is inconceivably greater than all things. God wants us to know, above all else, that He is supreme
The question is, are we currently living our lives in light of the supremacy of God?
And, if not, why aren't we? I suspect that part of the problem is that our society,
aided by the media, is a society that revolves around the 'self'. The generation
I belong to is appropriately called, 'The Me Generation', and the 20th century has been
accurately described as the century of the 'self'.
I hope it does not shock you to hear me say that the pursuit of the self can actually be a harmful exercise
. Solomon, in the book of Ecclesiastes, rightly describes the pursuit of earthly pleasures
" and "striving after wind
"(Eccl. 1:14). Solomon later asks rhetorically, "who can have enjoyment without (God)?
"(Eccl. 2:25). Solomon is not saying that it is wrong to pursue pleasure, he is only
saying that no one can experience true, lasting, pleasure without God. And the reason no one can have lasting enjoyment without God is because we were made for
It should be obvious, at least to the Christian, that we were created for something
infinitely bigger than the self. The people of Isaiah's day wrongly reduced God to
statues made from gold, silver, and wood. And while we aren't guilty of worshipping
wooden statues, we are guilty of worshipping a god who is merely the creation of our
mind. The people of Isaiah's day, and the people of our day, share the same sin in
this respect: The god we often worship is too small.
We were created, not to worship a god created by our mind, but to worship the God
of the universe. We were created to worship the God of the Bible. We were created
to worship the God who is revealed in Jesus Christ, and present to us in the Holy
What is amazing is that we all know, deep down, that we were created for something
bigger than ourselves. We know this because, as Solomon writes, God "has set eternity in (our) heart
"(Eccl. 3:11), and as Augustine has said, 'God has made us for Himself, and our heart
is restless, until it rest in Him'.
Pastor, author, John Piper, has an excellent question he asks to demonstrate our innate
desire to seek something greater than ourselves. Piper asks, 'Does anyone go to the
Grand Canyon to enhance their self-esteem? And, if not, why do they go?'. If not
for enhanced self-esteem, what drives people to the Grand Canyon?
Anyone who has visited the Grand Canyon, anyone who has stood next to Niagara Falls,
can tell you that when you are there, you don't feel that the self is being enhanced.
When you stand there, your soul does not say, 'Give me a mirror! Give me a mirror!'. You stand there with no self-awareness. And the reason for this is simple: The self was made to esteem something bigger than ourselves. The self was made to
Isaiah attempts to point to something beyond ourselves when he tells us "Lift up your eyes on high and behold who has created these stars
"(Isa. 40:26). Isaiah isn't pointing to yet another idol, the created stars, but he
points us, rather, to the "(One) who has created
" them. And just so we don't misunderstand this creation as simply an act of a God
setting the world in motion, Isaiah states that God "leads forth their host by number
" and "He calls (the stars) all by name
This is a staggering statement! Conservative scientific estimates state that there
are about one hundred billion galaxies in the universe. And in each galaxy are approximately
one hundred billion stars. That's a hundred billion times a hundred billion!(Bridges, The Joy Of Fearing God
, 56). Yet the Bible says that God calls each star by name.
Speaking of stars and galaxies, I read a great quote about Albert Einstein recently.
The quote comes from a scientific relativity theorist by the name of Charles Misener.
Misener writes, 'I do see the design of the universe as essentially a religious question--that
is, one should have some kind of respect and awe for the whole business. It is very
magnificent and should not be taken for granted. In fact, I believe that is why Albert Einstein had so little use for organized religion--although he strikes
me as a very religious man. Einstein must have looked at what the preachers said
about God and felt they were blaspheming. He had seen much more majesty than they
had ever imagined, and they were just not talking about the Real Thing'.
In many churches that I have attended, you would think people were attending a football
game the way they were carrying on. People arriving late and breathless from the
parking lot, people laughing with the ushers, and people waving at their friends--acting as though it were entirely natural for humans to meet God. I am not suggesting
that we cower in fear when we contemplate the presence of God, but I am most definitely
warning against the common Christian practice of trivializing the presence of Almighty God.
God should get more on Sunday mornings than He gets. I don't want to blaspheme God
in this pulpit. I want to share with you each and every Sunday one thing: the supremacy
of God over all things.
Why should worshipping Christ, prioritizing Christ, be your greatest pursuit? Because
Christ is supreme--"To whom then will you liken Me, that I should be his equal?
". Christ has no equals. Since Christ is supreme, nothing could be greater, nothing
could be more valuable than a personal relationship with the supreme One--Jesus Christ.
I hear Einstein coming to church and saying to an inquiring usher, 'I saw a million
galaxies last night, and I came to hear about the One who created these stars'. What
would he hear in 1999? Einstein would likely hear very little about the supremacy
of God. He would likely hear a sermon on 'How to do this' and 'How to do that', or a sermon
on 'How to be a better Christian at this' and 'How to be a better Christian at that'.
God should get more on Sunday mornings than He gets. God is supreme to God
. And, if God is supreme to God, He should be supreme to us
. Stop worshipping the god who never threatens your comfort zone. Stop worshipping
the god who encourages you to stay close to shore. Choose today to worship the God
who is supreme. Amen.