Room to Breathe

Last year I rediscovered J. B. Phillips’ classic little book, Your God Is Too Small. I still highly recommend it as it corrects so many misconceptions about God on the basis of which many people have understandably left the faith. If the things they have come to believe about God were true then of course they must leave the faith. But of course they are not true. It’s like abandoning a life-long friend on the basis of a nasty rumor circulated by his or her enemies. We believe the lie and walk away.

But there is another reason why people leave the faith, or never experience the faith in its fulness even though they may have spent a life-time in church. Perhaps especially if they have spent a life-time in church. It may also be the reason why Christians have so often “shown up” as mean-spirited, cold, authoritarian, judgmental, thin-skinned, irritable and even violent. Clearly something has gone wrong. Maybe it was bound to happen.

I’d like to offer for your consideration the possibility that our God is not too small, but the box in which we keep Him is too small. In fact, the box in which we live our whole lives may be too small. I’ve come to believe that many of our problems in life and faith can be traced to nothing more sinister that a failure of imagination. Consider the simple illustration of the transition from flat earth to round earth visualization. To us the earth seems flat. It takes imagination to believe that the earth is round. Once we do, our whole consciousness changes.

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your [flat earth] philosophy”. Thus spake Hamlet, and I think it is true for us. Our philosophies tell us what is possible, not just about this world and our lives, but also about God. I would invite us to consider the possibility that there is nothing wrong with God. But we have tried to contain Him in a space far too small for Him to breathe His life-giving Spirit over our often chaotic and brittle lives.

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