Your God is Too Small When He’s Too Big

If you’d only ever read the title of J.B. Phillips’ little book Your God Is Too Small, you may feel that the counterpoint needs to be made. Yes, we often build up inadequate images of God in our heads (the Resident Policeman or the Grand Old Man, to take two examples from Phillips’ book), idols that need to be smashed as much as any idol that appears in the Old Testament needed to be smashed—but what of people whose view of God is too big? That is, what of Christians who say things like, “I won’t bother God with this problem, it’s too trivial,” or “I can’t bring myself to pray for something so insignificant.” Actually, Phillips raises this issue in his book, and it’s the right place to do so because it is, in fact, still a too-small view of God. The deep implication of such a stance isn’t that God is so big that He can’t worry about each of our little problems, it’s that He’s too small and too limited to be able to do anything about them. Phillips calls this idol the “Managing Director,” drawing the analogy to a manager who, if he is in charge of fifty other people, can get to know each one as an individual; but if in charge of five thousand, is unable to take a personal interest in each one.

To think of God as “too big” for our pesky problems, then, is to have a rather small view of God. Yet if it seems rather innocuous and humble a belief, it’s actually a very dangerous one to hold. If God is too big to be bothered with a small problem, why should He be bothered by a small sin? Besides, what by this conception of God isn’t insignificant for Him? Either you have a God who can take a deep, personal interest in each individual, or you have a God for whom the rise and fall of civilizations is no more interesting than the rise and fall of waves in the ocean. It’s hard to imagine an in-between God, or to draw the line at which suddenly God can be bothered.

Christ made it clear that we don’t have to draw that line. According to Him, every hair on our heads is numbered, and of all the creatures that have ever lived, God hasn’t forgotten a single one.

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