“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.” - Mother Teresa
If you’ve known me very long, you know that I’m a long time science fiction fan. For that reason, among others, I was intrigued last summer when creationist Ken Ham said this about the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence: “You see, the Bible makes it clear that Adam’s sin affected the whole universe. This means that any aliens would also be affected by Adam’s sin, but because they are not Adam’s descendants, they can’t have salvation.”
It strikes me that you’ve got to be pretty full of yourself to tell God what he can and can’t do. If a man can bring sin to the entire universe but God can only forgive sin for one species, on one planet, we’re all in trouble, no matter what we are or where we live. Fortunately, God isn’t limited by what we think God can do.
When Jesus said it was almost impossible for a rich man to be saved (Matt. 19:23-24; Mark 10:23-25; Luke 18:24-25), the disciples asked, “‘Then who can be saved?’” (Matt. 19:25b; Mark 10:26b; Luke 18:26b ESV). I think we may have all wondered sometimes if someone like us can be saved, or maybe if someone we don’t particularly like can be saved. The disciples probably thought the same thing: Surely we’re no better than that man there who can’t be saved. What about us? Jesus answered, “‘With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.’” (Matt. 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 18:27 ESV).
That’s all they needed to know and it’s all we need to know. God can do it because God is God, and “all things are possible with God.” God can forgive any sin, and save any sinner. Even us and even people we don’t like.
In the early 1950’s, the late English Bible scholar J. B. Phillips wrote a book titled Your God Is Too Small. On the “Cosmos” TV series, Neil deGrasse Tyson attributed the phrase to Giordano Bruno, the 16th century mathematician who was tried during the Roman Inquisition for heresy, but it was Phillips instead. Either way, often the phrase fits.
God’s people have a long history of making our God too small. In Jeremiah’s time, thousands of high ranking Jews were being marched into captivity or “exile” in Babylon, in what is now Iraq. They wondered what would become of them. They believed God wouldn’t be there in Babylon because God was only in Israel. Their God wasn’t big enough. The prophet Jeremiah spoke for God and wrote a letter to the exiles. Here’s part of what he wrote: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.’” (Jer. 29:11-13 ESV).
The passage from Jeremiah was the Scripture for the Upper Room devotional about a month ago, and I realized that he not only spoke to the people of the Exile but to us. God has plans for each of us. We might not know what those plans are but we’re part of them, and God is big enough to keep us in God’s care.
If we believe God can’t hear us, our God is too small. If we believe God can’t answer prayer, our God is too small. If we believe God can’t forgive us, our God is too small. And if we believe God can’t love our neighbor, our God is too small. How big is our God? The size of our God reflects the size of our hearts. If we love our neighbor, and speak God’s words of hope like Jeremiah, we show God’s love, and demonstrate that God lives in us.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph. 3:14-19 ESV.)