God is Big, Part 2
October 17, 2006
I recently wrote a post on how God is Bigger than the Church.
In it I talked about how God is big. As my dad is fond of quoting from a lecture he attended at the Presbyterian seminary in town, “God is big, God is really big. If you just get that one point from seminary then the seminary has done its job.”
My post used a lot of academic and theological points to talk about how big God is.
My recent trip to California reminded me how little that stuff matters.
God is big. God is really big. We may use language, doctrine, theology, and other human concepts to try and describe God, but ultimately we cannot use the finite to describe the inifinite.
On my trip back to California and back to my home parish of All Saints Pasadena, I was struck by how open and receptive everyone was.
All Saints, while certainly not perfect, contains a wealth of people who focus on what possibilities exist in God rather than what limitations they perceive God to hold out for us.
That’s big. That’s a really big deal.
In a recent adult-ed forum at my parish in Austin, a speaker was discussing an initiative to form a Department of Peace in the government. Rather than being anti-war, anti-guns, anti-anything, the department would be pro-peace, pro-reducing violence in schools, pro-eliminating domestic violence, etc. It would focus on the possibilities that exist instead of the limitations that should be imposed- the systemic issues instead of the surface symptoms.
What was interesting was that the discussion turned to the feasibility of the program. Nobody disagreed with the objectives, but whether or not they were pragmatically achievable. What a couple of us in the room focused on was that it wasn’t important to achieve the implementation of the Department of Peace itself per se, but the journey of the campaign- raising awareness, changing the culture– these are the things that are important.
It is the journey of Christianity. Changing humanity from the broken state of looking at the world for what is impossible, or what is restrictive, or what we cannot or should not do, or being reactive, or being “anti-whatever”; to looking at the world through God’s eyes, seeing the potential, looking for relationships, being proactive, and being “pro-whatever”.
God is big. God is really big. In the church we fail here often. That’s what our current dilemma is about. Do we look at the bigness of our God? Do we allow ourselves to give God the room to be as big as God is? Or do we build up false walls around God, insisting that God must be limited in some way simply because we cannot imagine anything else, or perhaps because we don’t want it to be any other way.
That is the dilemma of humanity. Our incompleteness prevents us from seeing the bigness of God in totality. Our brokenness prevents us from necessarily wanting God to be as big as God is. “God’s love is bigger than we would like” is something Ed Bacon (rector of All Saints Pasadena) says, and how true it is. No matter what ideology we hold, no matter what political affiliation, God’s love is bigger than we would like.
We must focus on how we reach for that bigness, knowing that it is only in Christ Jesus that we are fully able to realize that bigness. We struggle, bound to fall short, but doing it anyway as Christians, because the wonderful thing about us is that we can continue to hope, we can continue to love, we can continue to act, because our hope is resurrected with each day, with each hour.
And, minute by minute, hour by hour, even decade by decade, the walls we have built around our God begin to fall. We begin to see the bigness of our God. The love that is so freely given is felt, and we are given the grace to act in that love to spread the good news of that bigness.
And, my friends, that is how, in the grand scheme of things, the arc of history, over time, always bends towards justice.