Last night at The Gathering Church I had a great time teaching from the story of the apostle Paul’s visit to Athens. (Acts 17:16-34) It reports on an incredible scene when Paul is asked to speak to a council of philosophers about what he had been teaching about Jesus Christ.
What he says includes some great lessons about God – lessons essential to everyone, believer or not.
After reporting on what he has observed about them, namely that they are a very religious people as evidenced by their many idols and temples, including one dedicated to “An Unknown God,” he says two things about God that are critical:
1. God is bigger than you think. Since he created everything, he cannot be fit into idols or temples. And, since God is ultimately responsible for everything we have, including our breath – he doesn’t need us. God is not the dependent one – we are.
2. God is closer than you think. We live in a world that is meant to guide us to God, a world that is meant to make us reach our for God. But, he’s not far away, because, “in him we live, and move and have our being.”
Athenian philosophers aren’t the only ones that need those two lessons. It seems to me that most of the challenges I experience in faith and in life boil down to thinking that God is not big enough to handle what I’m dealing with, or that God is not close enough to care about it.
It’s interesting how those two lessons work off one another, need the other, are inoperative without the other. It doesn’t matter how huge God is if he doesn’t care enough to be close. It doesn’t matter how close God is if he’s not big enough for the stuff we deal with.
Where are you shrinking God or imagining God at a distance?
Where do you need God to be big and close?