Have we made our God too small?
This week we end Lent with the wonderful, glorious stories of Jesus’ resurrection.
When we read the stories of the resurrection, one theme that comes out in all of them is that the disciples really hadn’t grasped that Jesus was God, that his death wasn’t the end. Even though he had tried to tell them he would rise again, even though they had acknowledged that he was the Messiah, even though they had seen him raise Lazarus from the dead, they hadn’t understood the bigness of who Jesus really was. They thought his death was the end. Their brains just couldn’t stretch that far!
But a couple of months later on, they were utterly transformed, not only believing that God could and would do the impossible but seeing and showing that in their everyday lives. And the world was transformed as a result of their faith. How amazing!
This week, we’re going to be thinking about how we can grow and keep a big vision of God in our kids, and ourselves, so that we learn to expect and see the impossible from our gracious Father.
The resurrection stories can be found in Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24 and John 20-21. They can also be found in children’s Bibles and Bible story books.
There are many video versions available on YouTube, including:
- This one that uses the words of John’s gospel
- A Beginners’ Bible version
- The story as written in the Jesus Storybook Bible
I don’t know about you, but every now and then I hear a song in church which really makes me sit up and think. About 15 years ago, I heard one of Doug Horley’s for the first time:
Have we made our God too small, too small
Have we made our God too small
He made the heavens and earth and he reigns on high
Yet he’s got the time for you and I.
I remember being really shocked at the idea. Had I made my God too small? Was I underestimating him or limiting my expectations of him? And I realised that I probably was. I knew all the stories about our mighty God in the Bible. I enjoyed my annual summer festival where we rejoiced in, saw and heard about God’s majesty, grace and power. But somehow it was hard to hold on to these expectations of God in my everyday life and I can quickly default to a small view of God again.
At Pentecost, the disciples’ attitudes were transformed. Gone were the fearful friends, hiding together away from sight; instead, aided and abetted by the Holy Spirit, this group forged ahead, boldly proclaiming the truth about God, performing miracles and seeing the power of God at work in them and because of them. Their vision, once small, was now huge, and the world was changed. Now that’s the vision and expectation of God I want to keep firmly in my sights, everyday!
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe for one instant that we are meant to be living lives of constant miracles and glory. Life is life. Most of it is very ordinary. We are called to care for our families, to work, to rest, to spend time with others, to just get on with surviving. But just because we’re not on a spiritual mountain top doesn’t mean our vision of God has to be small. We may not be seeing miracles everyday, but if our vision of God is big, we will expect more, we will pray for me, we will do more of what he wants, fuelled by the hope and knowledge of his power and presence.
Things to think about
- We have the same Holy Spirit as the disciples did: a Holy Spirit who is God’s constant presence with us (John 14:16), who teaches and corrects us as he daily transformed us to be more like God (John 16:4-15 ) and who equips us with good gifts to help us play our part in God’s kingdom. How can we draw more on the Holy Spirit in our day to day lives?
- We have the same commission that the disciples had and the same community of the church that God gave them that the disciples did. How do these help you keep a big view of God?
- It’s easy to get stuck into patterns of how we see God: maybe relishing the wonders of his creation, maybe focussing on his demands for justice, maybe concentrating on his call to love others. What are your favourite ways to see God? Are there other ways that might expand your view of him? The ‘identifying our bias exercise’ in session 3 of the Parenting for Faith course can be a great way to help you do this.
- Sometimes we can have a view of God that means it’s hard to see all that he is and all that he wants for us. That can be because we don’t have a broad view of who he is, or it could be because we’ve got a mistaken picture of him in our heads. Session 3 of the course (as well as chapter 5 of Parenting Children for a Life of Faith Omnibus looks at this and has suggestions for how you might broaden your child’s view of God and gently correct any misconceptions they might have. There is a quick introduction to the key tool of unwinding here.
- Share the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 18 and 19. One minute he and God are crushing the prophets of Baal with the most outrageous miracle, and the next he is sitting under a bush in the wilderness, bemoaning his lot and begging to die. Wonder together what happened to make him change? Are you ever like Elijah?
- Where do you see God working in the world? Would you like to partner with him in that?
- Create a culture in your family where you expect God to do big things. Check out how one family did this here.
- Discover the story of George Müller, who constantly expected and received the impossible from God.
- Talk about your favourite Bible stories. What do they tell you about the character of God? Why not try reading some different or new stories and see what they can teach you?
- Pursue all that God has for you as a family. What part does he want you to play in growing his kingdom?
- Check out some videos that help us understand the intricacy and scale of God’s creation, such as this one. Children with a scientific bent might enjoy Louis Giglio’s ‘Indescribable’, 100 devotions about science.
- Interview your family or people from church. Ask them what’s the most amazing or powerful thing they’ve ever seen God do?
- Chat to God about what he is like. See if you can catch what he says back.
- Find out about modern missionaries, and the stories they can tell of how God helps them and Christians all over the world, some of which have pages for children: for example, Baptist Missionary Society, Mission Aviation Fellowship or Wycliffe Bible Translators.
- Get everyone in your family to draw a picture of what they think God is like. Then share what you’ve drawn and why.