When did God become smaller?



At what time did the God who wrestled Jacob become unable to deal with our questions and doubts? Or when did the God who came to Job in a whirlwind and affirm his questions become impatient with our cries for justice and deeper understanding?

I read about the God who promised the Israelites a return from exile yet told them to seek the peace of their captive city. But when did this God get replaced with one who told us nothing bad will ever happen to us as long as we do everything right? When did the God who spoke more truth through “unworthy” foreign sailors than God’s own prophet Jonah suddenly become unable to speak any truth through anyone besides Christians, and only “proper Christians” at that?

When did the God who, embodied in Jesus, called us to care for the vulnerable populations and affirm the divine image of God in them, change his mind and tell us to demonize them? When did the God who transformed Paul from murderer to evangelist become unable to do the same for other murderers and offenders?

When did the God who instituted the Church, against which the gates of hell would not prevail, decide the Church could be destroyed by science and postmodernism?

Maybe, you say, God is not smaller but my faith is. Maybe you tell me the questions and challenges I pose are wrong, and it’s not these understandings of God which are in the wrong but me.

But still I ask you, if God is not smaller, then why can’t my questions and even my small faith be handled? Why do I hear so much about a God who only cares about us achieving some vague, other-worldly idea of holiness instead of doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with our Creator? If you say God’s love is not small, why does the criteria for inclusion in God’s family resemble that of a country club instead of an AA meeting?

Every now and then, I find proof of God’s bigness. I catch glimpses in communities who live out God’s desire for mercy, not sacrifice; when someone deemed “unworthy” is welcomed in with open arms, and when people are free to ask and wrestle with questions instead of receiving cookie cutter answers. I see great signs of God’s presence in the theater, where hard stories are told and embodied with unflinching honesty and difficult questions are pondered over meals, drinks, and laughter, where playtime is a way of life.

But more often than not, I still see God shrink-wrapped and forced into a box, another easy product to be consumed. Sometimes, it seems like God has been forced into multiple boxes, as if God has been dismembered for easy shipping purposes.When I see this, I fear God will never be able to be big again.

And then I remember how God is capable of raising people from the grave, so I don’t put too much hope in that method.

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