Have We Outgrown Our Image of God?
September 21, 2014
24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Mid-life, I was given this piece of advice: Don’t let life fit you small! You’ve got to think about that one, don’t you? If I had been told that in my younger years, I might well have forgotten it. But it came to me at a time when I was showing the first signs of aging…or maybe maturity…and so the idea stuck with me and I spent a lot of time reflecting on just what that might mean. Certainly, it motivated me not to settle. It encouraged me to explore options, take chances, and to stretch myself. Among other insights…Don’t let life fit you small…led me to consider how unfortunate it is to try to “shrink God.”
In her book Glimpse of Grace, author Madeleine L’Engle writes: I sense a wish in some…to make God possible, to make (God) comprehensible to the naked intellect, domesticate (God) so that (God) is easy to believe in. Maybe it’s a sign that I am maturing spiritually, but even though it took a while, that thought started to make some sense to me as well. It seems that many times, in an effort to make it easier to believe in God, we tend to “make God fit small.” We settle for a God that we can more easily manage. Unfortunately, when God is “domesticated,” people get so comfortable that they stop exploring the Infinite and miss out on some mind-blowing, spirit-growing insights. Moreover, when we make God small, rather than make the Divine more believable, we actually are left with an image that is not always totally credible.
For example, if we settle for a “comprehensible” God, then this Sunday’s Gospel will prove totally incomprehensible. How can a just God permit the last to come to the head of the line? This certainly doesn’t gel with the traditional concept of justice. The thought would simultaneously send shudders up the spines of labor leaders and CFOs alike!
I wonder if, just possibly, with this little parable about the Kingdom, Jesus is trying to stretch us…help us mature spiritually…encourage us, where God is concerned, not to settle for what we are comfortable with but to search for more. Could Jesus be telling us not to let God fit us small…so that our lives do not fit small? Have we outgrown our image of God?