JUST AS I began reassessing my understanding of God that had largely been formed from pulpits of fundamental evangelical preachers, I was reminded of J.B. Phillips’ book, Your God Is Too Small[1].  Written in the early 1950s, Your God Is Too Small has as its premise that most people’s understanding of God is far too inadequate to cope with the challenges of the 20th Century. Phillips describes different perceptions people have of God—unreal gods—that fail miserably in the midst of life’s trials:

• Resident policeman
• Parental hangover
• Grand old man
• Meek-and-mild
• Absolute perfection
• Heavenly bosom
• God-in-a-box
• Managing director
• Second-hand God
• Perennial grievance
• Pale Galilean
• Projected image

Christ's handPhillips then goes on to demonstrate the rationale of how and why God chose to show himself to humanity, in the form of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The enormity of Almighty God is beyond comprehension for mere mortals who, since the beginning of time, have sought to know him, the Creator of this vast universe. By having his Son come to earth in the form of man, live alongside humans in a way that reflected his character being worked out in relationships, through his teachings, resultant abuse, suffering and execution on a cross, enabled people to have a focussed understanding of what had otherwise been indefinable.

Had the story ended with the crucifixion, Jesus would have faded into history. However, to complete the revelation of his uniqueness, Christ rose from the dead, overcoming the powers of death and darkness. There is significant historical proof of the resurrection, including not just that his grave stone had been rolled away, but that after his death he had been seen alive, in bodily form, by hundreds of witnesses. Anticipating that those who would follow him, mere men and women, would fail miserably on their own, God provided the Holy Spirit to continue his mission of redemption in the world.

Phillips captures the essence of Christianity, not shying away from the question ofJesus..prophet suffering, and giving the argument for and against following Christ, and the failure of the Church to present him in all his glorious, life-changing reality.

Your God Is Too Small is a timely book for the 21st Century, particularly with church attendance being seen as irrelevant leaving many people floundering in their faith and grasping for meaningful direction and purpose. A great read.

[1] Phillips, J.B., Your God Is Too Small.  New York: Macmillan, © 1953.

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