God Is Not Small

God Is Not Small

Written by Guy M. Richard |
Friday, October 1, 2021

When we come face-to-face with the God of the Bible, when we look out over the expanse of who He is and we really see it, we cannot help but be overwhelmed with His weightiness and significance. And when we do, inevitably we will see how incredibly small and insignificant we are in comparison. It is an excellent antidote to the priorities and perspectives of the world in which we live—which is, as Packer called it, a world of “God-shrinkers.” But, more than that, it is only when we come face-to-face with the “Godness” of God that we will feel the full weight of our sin and gain a full appreciation for the cross of Christ, which sets us free from the full weight of our sins forevermore.

Just over sixty years ago, J.B. Phillips wrote a book in which he attempted to call out many of the common tendencies that he saw in the twentieth century to reduce God down to size. His book, aptly titled Your God Is Too Small, was an effort at presenting a clearer and more accurate picture of “the God who is there” (to borrow the name of one of Francis Schaeffer’s well-known works). More recently, J.I. Packer and David Wells have followed Phillips’ example and have called out contemporary misconceptions of God in similar ways. Wells, for instance, has argued that modern Western people now generally see God as carrying little or no weight in their lives. He is inconsequential, unimportant, and barely noticeable for most of us. Packer has even gone so far as to suggest that our time will be remembered, above all other times, as the age of the “God-shrinkers.” More than any other period in history, he says, our age has become convinced that God is irrelevant and insignificant. As Packer puts it, God is barely a “smudge” on the page of our secularized lives.

In one sense, these ideas are really nothing new. Ever since the garden of Eden, Satan has been seeking to convince each of us that we can “be like God” (Gen. 3:5). The clear assumption behind this lie is that you and I can actually be like Him. It is an explicit denial of the “Godness” of God, an obvious rejection of the Creator-creature distinction, and a glaring repudiation of the holiness of God (defined as otherness). To believe that we can “be like God” is to exalt ourselves and, at the same time, to reduce God down to size. Satan has been working that angle since the very beginning. So, we really should not be all that surprised when we see it at work in our own day and time.

Long before Phillips, Packer, or Wells walked the face of the earth, the Apostle Paul warned us about these things. He told us that sin would run its course in our lives and that, as a result, we would “[exchange] the truth about God for a lie” and would “[worship] and [serve] the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever!” (Rom. 1:25). Satan, according to Jesus, is a “liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). He would like nothing more than for us to believe that we can “be like God.” He would like nothing more than for us to shrink God down to our size, to render Him inconsequential, unimportant, and barely noticeable in our lives. And it would seem that we have embraced the lie. In mass quantities, we have swallowed it whole.

But, as Phillips reminded us, the God of the Bible is not small. He is no mere lightweight. In the words of Mr. Beaver from C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the God of the Bible is definitely not “a tame lion.” He is significant and weighty. He is exalted and regal. He is “high and lifted up; and the train of his robe fill[s] the temple” (Isa. 6:1).

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