To apprehend is to become aware of something whereas, to comprehend is to understand something. There is a world of difference between awareness and understanding. We may be aware of a divine attribute in our own natures without understanding what the workings of that attribute actually are, of how those attributes are to shape us. We may be aware of God without understanding the complexities of God. We may recognize something like big-ness without realizing that we generally ignore the fact that we only think of something as big when we compare it to something else. I have heard that Lincoln was once asked, (due to his tall stature), how long should a man’s legs be? He answered, “Long enough to reach from his waist to the ground.” In short, the answer is that a thing should be equal to the task for which it is intended.
So then, what about God? How big should God be? God must be big enough to fulfill the nature of God. Some people have gods that are simply too small. Some rely on a man, or more properly; a man’s philosophic outlook on existence, others on natural things or even the cosmic wonder of the universe; all of these are too small to be God. The other day, as I looked out over the bare oak branches that will soon form the savannah of northern Missouri, I thought about just how big God must be. First, it must be stated that it is little more than an exercise in foolishness to even attempt to think of God’s size in terms of physicality. What finite measure can be used to measure the infinite? I wondered if one of God’s eyelashes might be enough to cloak the world in darkness if it were to appear on the horizon. I considered the Scripture that tells us that God holds the whole universe in the palm of His hand, (Isaiah 40) – (sorry New-Agers, your god is too little), and marveled that with the span of His hand He has marked off the heavens.
How pointless it is for finite beings such as we are to attempt to fathom the immensity of God! It is like infinity – we might be able to apprehend the concept of forever, but until we reach the end of endlessness, how can we really comprehend infinity? I am not saying that God has no limits, He does. God cannot do some things, but not because our natural laws or physicality prevent it. The things that God is unable to do are because they oppose His very nature, they compete with holiness or they are in error by their very proposition. God cannot make rocks so big that He cannot lift them; He cannot make one sided coins nor can He make square circles. God cannot deny Himself. But the things that God can, and does, do, are things that we cannot expect to understand by our limited human understanding. How did God make the sun stand still in the heavens and prevent its going down for a whole day? How did God part the Red Sea? Why should we think that we could ever understand such things?
Even if God were to condescend to try to explain Himself and His ways to us, we would never have the capacity to understand. Why should we try to make the acts of a supernatural God fit into the natural world of our understanding? There was an episode of Rod Serling’s “Twilight Zone, “called, “Stopover in a Quiet Town,” where at the end a little girl, (a little giant girl), is using the characters as dolls, or lab rats, in her diorama of a small town and I thought, “God would be like that. I was only a teenager then and had no real understanding of God, but the thought of a giant hand reaching down and scooping up a person seemed like the sort of thing that religion was all about. Now I see that that size god would be insufficient for the role of God.
Some religions teach that the followers need to defend their god and fight for his honor as though he were unable to do it for himself. Judges 76:31 describes such a thing when the people want Gideon’s father to bring him out after destroying the altar of Baal. We are called to defend our faith but what we are called to is not armed conflict, no; we are to arm ourselves with the Scriptures that explain the reason for the hope we have in Christ. We are to be able to defend the reason for our belief in a loving and reasonable way but we are never called to fight physically in this world to defend God Himself. The Christian God is plenty big enough for that. There are several occasions where God destroyed armies for His people because they were in imminent danger, but God never had His people fight to defend Him.
One of the most amazing things is that though God is beyond measuring in His infinitude, He reaches through all of time and space to come to us. He divides the cosmos and weaves His way through galaxies; He slips between solar systems and eludes the orbits of the planets to come to earth. He pierces the atmosphere to locate the continent and the state and the town where we are. He comes to our house and finds us on our rooms to care for us, each individually. We are not insignificant to God. Yes He is infinite, but in His amazing immensity He reaches into the lives of each of us, to the point that even the very hairs on our head are numbered, Matthew 10:30.
I once used to think of how insignificant any single person must be in the grand scheme of things and how no one would miss any of us were we to have never been born, (It’s a Wonderful Life aside), because the world would keep right on spinning and life would go on without us. That’s when I was lost in the depths of depression – but now I can see that my perspective was all wrong. It is a comforting thing to realize that the very insignificance realized by our human situations is the same thing that is of critical importance to God. He wants us to all come to repentance and to know Him as our Saviour through faith in Jesus Christ. He is not willing that any of us should be lost. The infinite God of all is so big that all he can concern Himself with is the welfare of His creation and the sustenance He provides to benefit us all.
If you worship a man, consider the world in which he lives; it’s bigger. If you worship the trees or the water, consider the sun which gives light; it’s bigger. If you worship the sun and the moon, the stars in the sky, consider how ordinary a star or a moon is compared to the expanse of the universe; it’s bigger. If you worship the universe and trust to the aether to return some benefit to you, consider the God of creation who has made everything by the speaking of His voice and holds it all in the palms of His hands; He’s bigger. Now you’re thinking about a worthy God, a God who is able to save and a God who is willing to condescend to come to earth to offer Himself as a sacrifice for our transgressions so that we, (as insignificant as we may think ourselves to be), may be made right with Him and live with Him in eternity.
Unless we are willing to accept our own smallness, we will have an extremely difficult time in understanding God’s big-ness. We have to strive to apprehend the character of God and even though we may not be able to comprehend that character; we must accept the fact that God IS, and that He is big enough to deal with anything. If all we want is a god that’s bigger than we are, then any god will do. If, on the other hand, we want a God in our lives, (and He is there whether we want to admit it or not), who fulfills all of the requisites of GOD, then there is only one place to turn. We must open our Bibles and begin to learn everything we can about the God of creation; the God who is described in the pages of Scripture. As we accept the truth of who we are and who God is and the right relationship we have between us, we will begin to receive understanding; an understanding that will mature into actions which are…
All for the Glory of Christ