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How big is your God?
June 6, 2011
by Rev. Lee Hallstrom, Light of Christ Lutheran Church, Delano

As a mother and her small daughter were sitting at the kitchen table, the little girl asked, “Mommy, where is God?”

“God is everywhere,” answered her mother.

“Is God in the cupboard?”

“Yes!”

“Is God in the living room?”

“Of course God is.”

“Well, is God in this sugar bowl?”

“Yes, her mother replied, “God is in the sugar bowl.”

With that, the little girl took the sugar bowl lid, slammed the lid on the top of the bowl, and announced, “Good, now I’ve got God!”

How big is your God? How big is God for you? Or put another way, is your God too small? Does your belief about God box you in, narrow your thinking, and keep you from exploring new truths and new understandings?

We smile at the little girl who wanted to contain and control God, but how often do we do the very same thing?

How big is your God?

One day, the apostle Paul was walking through a marketplace in Athens (Acts 17). As he strolled along, he was amazed at how many different idols he found there, how many statues of gold and silver and stone that the people worshipped as their gods.

Paul told the people that the true God, the one who made heaven and earth, cannot be contained inside some manmade statues. Instead, the true God is so much greater than anything like that.

We may say that the actions of the people of Athens were foolish. However, when we make God smaller than God really is, aren’t we doing the very same thing that they did? How often do we try to control and contain God, instead of welcoming God to be God and to control us?

It seems to me that there can be a constant danger on our part to shrink God down to something smaller than God truly is. One of the ways that we do this is when we figure that God loves only us, and people like us.

But in response to this, the apostle Paul reminds us that God is the creator of all nations, of all races. God, then, is not just our God, but also the God of every other person on the face of the whole earth.

Another way that we shrink God down is when we try to make God fit into our parameters, instead of letting God stretch us. The truth is that the Holy Spirit continues today to bring new insights and interpretations to God’s Word.

If you challenge this, look at Acts 10. The accepted understanding at that time was that God would never appear to an unclean Gentile. That just would not happen. However, the Spirit of God, defying accepted thought, visited Cornelius and directed him to send for Peter. At the same time, the Spirit of God said to Peter, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” (Acts 10:15).

So, Peter went to Cornelius as the Spirit of God directed him. This action would have been blasphemy to most 1st-century Jewish Christians. Peter, however, discovered firsthand how the Spirit of God could lead in a direction that established tradition would consider foolish.

Peter was an observant Jew. He knew Leviticus 20:25, which says, “You must therefore make a distinction between clean and unclean . . .” Yet, the Spirit was leading and telling Peter that there was a new interpretation happening, beginning at that moment. Peter had to overcome 1,000 years of Jewish understanding to be obedient to the Spirit. But he did! So, as God brought new understandings to old scripture verses in the first century, are we, as believers, open when God seeks to do the very same thing today?

The question is “How big is our God?” Are we trying to control God, or are we willing for God to control us?

Are we trying to make God fit into our parameters, or are we willing for God, the Holy Spirit, to stretch us?

Maybe it’s time for us, as believers, to keep the “lid off the sugar bowl” in order that we can know that God is bigger and greater than we ever imagined.

May all joy be yours in believing!