Summary: Seeing God to be both vast and small simultaneously by seeing him at human scale in Christ
Now I need to start by stating publically my admiration of Professor Steven hawking. His overcoming of his disabilities alone is impressive enough. But it is only when you try to understand his thought do you really get blown away. Because within one human cranium are views of the universe more distant than the Hubble telescope can see. He perceives aeons of time that outdate the elements that make up you and me. In fact, he has proposes wonders that stretch our credibility to breaking point in every apparent reality we have ever known.
Yet I have the temerity to take issue with him about his outlook on God. Since, maybe understandably, he considers that any creator of the vastness of space would be far too large to have any regard for infinitesimally small creatures such as ourselves. To him, the analogy of our lack of concern for bacteria when we wash our hands would be apposite.
The problem then for faith lies not in the possibility of God rather it is in the scale of God. Teasing that idea out, we could say that, often when we deal with belief or disbelief, we are dealing with the matter of imagination. The imagination for example to conceive of a God as much present and active in the myriad of Galaxies out in space as he is the very atoms of the wooden pew you are sitting on.
And it is here that Psalm 113 helps us out. For it too is also really all about the scale. Most obviously, it starts by lauding the scale of divine’s vastness. Indeed, it is from this point that Psalmist makes clear that our worship should commence. For, after all, we must assume that God encompasses this universe and all the others that some scientists suggest exist. And that is big – big enough to praise in its own right!
However, this Psalm then zooms inwards and downwards to show us a God at our own scale. A God that is not a distant and distracted watchmaker. Instead, a God intimately involved in world of our size. Since we now see a God who is concerned with the genuine issues of our little lives – poverty – powerlessness – medical problems. And that is small – small enough to praise too in its own right.
Nevertheless such limitless fancy and variable sense of scale is not given to mere mortals even within the brains of the world’s great thinkers. But in the end of the day, that’s not a problem. All we need do is realise that the failure is in us and not in the reality of a simultaneously super large and super tiny God. All we need do to is to join the Psalmist in giving into a God who seems to expand and contract whilst staying the same. All we need do is understand we are talking of a God who is omnipresent – that means 100% present everywhere and all the time.
Now this reminds me of a story from the early days of space travel. One of the Russian cosmonauts returned from orbiting the earth to announce that he had looked out his space capsule and had not seen God anywhere. To which the eminent preacher Dr. W. A. Criswell replied, “Let him take off his space suit for just one second and he’ll see God quick enough.”
However, we do not need to anything so dangerous to help our overworked imaginations out. We just need to read a bit of Matthew’s gospel. Since the Divine is all too aware of the human limitation of grasping things bigger and smaller than themselves. And so he came up with a solution. He sent down his Son. He presented each struggling mind with a sort of hologram.
Let me explain!
Those tiny mirror-like panels on our credit cards which shimmer like rainbows have a very odd feature. And it is this. If you cut them up, you can still see the whole original picture in a sliver as long as you angle it correctly. In other words, the large is still there in the small.
Put another way, an elderly woman made her living selling artificial fruit. One day a customer complained the fruit she sold was not realistic enough. She pointed to an apple, saying it was too red, too round and too big to be a real apple. At that point the artificial fruit lady picked up the apple and proceeded to eat it.
In Christ then we do not see an imitation rather we see the real thing. In Christ, we need no imagination only open eyes to see the whole picture. In Christ we truly see God scaled to our vision.
Yet you may well ask – how do you recognize this?