Not long ago I was raised the question, Is God’s love for us separate from His forgiveness? The simple answer for me is the two are distinct yet you can’t have one without the other. When I was much younger I read a book entitled, Your God Is Too Small. The basic premise of this book is our tendency to frame our understanding of God in totally human terms, because that’s all we know. To a point that’s good but it becomes a problem when our human terms are no longer broad enough to handle God. We can’t fathom the depth of His love because in human terms we run out of understanding before we get to the limits of His love. 

When I was young I was taught that Christ died for my sins and that I was to receive God’s forgiveness, live a Christlike life and then spend eternity in heaven when I died. However, if I chose to turn away from God then I was no longer accepting His forgiveness and would spend eternity in hell. I know some of you reading this are not understanding the problem right now. Here’s my basic problem with this: I believe it goes against God’s character of love and it diminishes the power of the cross of Christ.

I was recently having a conversation with someone and as I shared this with her she said, “so what you’re saying is that there’s no punishment for your sin.” To which I responded, “there has been punishment, and that punishment was received once and for all by Christ on the cross.” Admittedly this line of thinking goes against our human sense of fairness and justice. However, for me to consider the possibility of diminishing the power of the cross and Christ’s forgiveness by saying I can undo His forgiveness seems like the most arrogant position I could possibly take. In addition, it puts us in a position of jumping through hoops to earn love and forgiveness. Even reducing this to human terms it’s hard to imagine a loving father doing something like that to His children.

So, where does this leave us? It leaves us forgiven. It leaves us at a point of not having to do anything to earn God’s love or forgiveness. It leaves us in a state of freedom. It leaves us as the recipients of God’s unmerited favor. It leaves us with a God much larger than our own own human understanding can even begin to fathom. Now what?

Just recently a friend and I were talking about God’s level of involvement in the ongoing affairs of the universe. A theologian he’d been talking with believes that God doesn’t know the future, nor is He the kind of “cosmic coordinator of universal events” that many people believe. For God to place Himself in that role strips human beings of the free will He created us with, and He’s unwilling to take away that freedom.

My friend’s view is more of the traditional belief that God is involved in the details of our lives. He believes that as a Christian, God has a plan for his life and his responsibility is to live his life according to that plan. God not only knows the future but He helps him get there. My friend can’t accept the view of the theologian because he thinks it puts God in a very small box. As he put it to me, “My God is bigger than that.”

That debate began an internal conversation for me about God’s knowledge, power and control. His vision into the future. His involvement in our daily lives and actions. Whether or not He has plans for us as individuals. I began to wonder which of these people’s “God box” was bigger, because I’m sure they each believe their view of God is larger than the other’s.

So what are your thoughts? Who has the bigger God, my friend or the theologian? Does God orchestrate every activity in the world; choosing the bad things that happen to some people and the good things that happen to others? Does He rain down difficulty on evil-doers while showering the saints with blessings? Does He take a more passive, hands-off role in the daily routine of our lives and allow the world to function according to what He placed in motion thousands of years ago?

What size box is your God in?