God is bigger than we are. I suppose that statement is an obvious truth, one that all of us would agree with, but there are times, especially during political seasons, when this basic truth is forgotten, ignored or twisted.
I mentioned in a recent sermon that both parties have tried recently, in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, to adopt God as their mascot. This is nothing short of theological silliness but there is a great temptation for many to say, “It is clear that if you vote with us, you are voting with God.”
Jesus preached against this simplistically sectarian view of the Creator of all. Of course, we should note that when Jesus made this rather strong point in his very first sermon (see Luke 4:16-30) the congregation tried to kill him. The crowd was incensed because Jesus read from the Bible to make the point that as part of the chosen people God expected them to expand their group to everyone, not shrink it down to a nice tidy manageable size.
Peter Gomes emphasizes that this first sermon set the tone for the rest of Jesus’ ministry. Gomes, in his book, The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus, writes that Jesus was indicating that God is above and beyond our differences.
“That is something of the point Jesus was trying to make in his sermon in Nazareth, and he would perhaps have reminded his fellow Jews that ‘our’ God is bigger than we are. Although he did not finish that sermon, throughout the rest of his preaching and teaching, as recorded in Luke and in the other Gospels, the claim of a God bigger than those who worship him, more gracious, more generous, more hospitable than they are, is at the core of what Jesus calls the good news or the gospel, and it ought to be good news that God is bigger than we are.”
Gomes is correct; God is bigger than we are. The test for our church, for any church in the USA during what is becoming a very bitter and angry campaign, is the ability to place our faith in the generous, gracious, creator of the universe.
Here is a way to test yourself: Think of the person (in your family, your neighborhood, the national stage, wherever) that you disagree with the most politically. Now, stand at the Lord’s Table and ask, “If Jesus invites me and that person–and he does–to dine with him, am I able to sit with that one at the table of our Lord?”
Grace and peace to you,