How great is God?
Communication is a big issue for me. Trying to express ideas in words - including in the Bible - often results in a watering down of the concepts involved.
I have shared elsewhere JB Phillips book "Your God is too small". When I read it in 1974, I thought it was a good book. When I re-read it in 2015, I realised how weak my words were. They're not wrong - but the truths conveyed to my mind are so far short of reality as I now appreciate it. It's almost, as they say, blown my mind. This is not the author's fault - I don't know how much he appreciated, and how far short he too fell. But even if I added 1000 words "way" before the word "too" I still wouldn't do justice to the truth.
The next step in my learning: if God's much much bigger than my mind can grasp, so too is the enormity of sin (paid for through Jesus for those who choose to accept it). No wonder the young Paul called himself "the least of the Apostles" - while the old Paul was "the chief of sinners". As a Christian, I know that sin creates a distance between God and us. Just how great a barrier I am starting to realise. I guess I'd thought of it a bit like a much bigger Berlin wall - but that's not even close.
If God's absolutely, completely wonderful and perfect and good and loving, no wonder even "little" bits less wonderful and perfect and good cannot exist in His presence. And I know this raises questions about how He can accept us, and put up with the results of our rebellion in this world. But I have long since given up trying to understand the nature of eternity and the such. Suffice to say He does - He loves us (every human - not just Christians) so much more than we can ever understand. The overwhelming view of the Bible is he wants a relationship with everyone who wants it. Sadly the overwhelming pronouncement of the church is so often that He's angry with us, rather than a Father longing to put his arms around us.
I think of that classic song - Amazing Grace. I don't know what was going through John Newton's mind - but the words that came from him for that song give some hint of the enormity of His grace, love, forgiveness, etc. Amazing grace indeed. Getting older with a few health issues causes me to slow down. I found this frustrating at first, but I'm starting to see more of the big picture - of God's incredible love for us, even when we don't live up to our own standards. Looking back at Phillips, and CS Lewis, and more recently Wm Paul Young ("The Shack") is encouraging. C Baxter Kruger ("The Shack Revisited") shows how the images in The Shack are closer to our God than many think.
Many of us have an image of God from Jonathan Edwards "Sinners in the hands of an angry God". Although that's not the full picture of what he said, that's what many of us retain. Many years earlier, Athanasius wrote, "It was impossible, therefore, that God should leave man to be carried off by corruption, because it would be unfitting and unworthy of Himself".
My God really has been too small.