Sunday, June 5, 2011

God is bigger

I've come to the realization that I often try make God smaller   I try to fold him, I try to squeeze Him down to a manageable size, and I try to limit Him, if only so I can try to better comprehend Him and His purpose.  Needless to say, I fail miserably. 

"God is bigger than the boogie man.
He's bigger than Godzilla and the monsters on TV.
Oh, God is bigger than the boogie man,
And he's watching out for you and me." - Veggie Tales

Pastor Matt, at Duvall Church, has been doing a series on Mark for the past few weeks, and did a sermon on how biblical movements often turn into religious movements.   It got me thinking about the role of religion in our faith, and how it can often get in the way of our relationship with Jesus and God. 

When I was much younger, I used to attend Mass with my step-grandmother, Luz. I was in awe of the amazingly beautiful church, and all of the solemn ritual.  I really, really wanted to take communion, not because I understood it's significance, but because I wanted to belong, to participate. I look back and realize that I didn't correlate going to Mass with worshiping God. 

I've been to other churches over the years, where the success of the church often felt like the goal.   I've watched 'cult-of-personality' preachers on TV shame people into giving, promising Grace. And over and over, I've seen churches split, over what seems the smallest points of doctrine. We seem to often miss the point of the church.  That WE are the church and that we give our lives to the worship of God.

I've certainly been guilty of caring more about trivial points of doctrine than Jesus.  Having come from a restoration movement church (Church of Christ), we moved up here to Washington, and when looking for a church, we automatically looked at CoC churches first.  We loved the theology, the lack of a 'band' accompaniment, and the familiar music.  However, none of the churches, CoC or otherwise, seemed to live up to our expectations.  We went to a few churches that we dismissed seemingly only because they had a band and didn't sing the same songs.  Trite, I know.  But we were only seeing the surface, and never looked deeper into the body of believers that made up the church.

My family and I went and saw Gungor in concert a couple of days ago.  They played a song that they sing in their church:  God is not a white man. It managed, in the space of 3 minutes, to remind  me that I often try to change God into what I want Him to be.

"They tried to keep you in a tent
They could not keep you in a temple
or any of their idols
to see and understand

We cannot keep you in a church
We cannot keep you in a Bible
it's just another idol 
to box you in

They could not keep you in their walls
We cannot keep you in ours either
for You are so much greater

Who is like the Lord?
The maker of the heavens
Who dwells with the poor
He lifts them from the ashes
and seats them among princes
Who is like the Lord? " Cannot Keep You - Gung

How do we manage, time and again, to make the church bigger than God? To make the ritual more important than worship? To make religion the goal? To try to change the unchangeable? To somehow limit Him, and ultimately, to desire to have him serve us by changing to suit US?

All of this has led to a lot of praying and thinking on my part. I've come to realize that very often, I put my desires over His.  That I often worship my career and 'status'.  That often my goals are more important than His glory.

Over the last few weeks, I think that rather than me trying to make God smaller, with the help of Pastor Matt, the Bible, a Gungor concert, and lots of thinking and praying, I've become smaller.  And I think that's how it should be.

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