, , , , , ,

Your God Is Too Small (1) was the verdict rendered by J.B. Phillips. Was he thinking of those who projected God as a huge snuggly and non-threatening teddy bear, or a super human law enforcement officer whose beat was the world, or the ever available bell hop in the hyper elegant resort fronting the idyllic seashore, or even the oversized dragon whose idea of fun was to devour helpless victims? Perhaps. In fact, probably. It wouldn’t surprise me. These and similar views of God are too small!! They ultimately fail when we face life’s dilemmas.

Because our view of God frequently is too small, so also is our view of desire. This is how C. S. Lewis describes the situation in his “The Weight of Glory” (2):

The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

True freedom in Jesus is a consequence of desiring ultimately only what the “not too small” God provides. (VC)

(1) J. B. Phillips. Your God Is Too Small. 1961.  (available as a PDF file at http://thecommonlife.com/files/books/Your_God_is_Too_Small.pdf)

(2) C. S. Lewis, “The Weight of Glory”. Preached originally in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford, England on June 8, 1942 (available as a PDF file at http://www.verber.com/mark/xian/weight-of-glory.pdf)