If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Luke 11:13 (NIV)
Back in the 1950s, J B Phillips wrote a book called “Your God is Too Small”. I think Jesus would agree with the title, certainly in the context of the story he told today.
Bill Hybels, in the second chapter of his book “Too Busy Not to Pray” writes a great exposition of this story, calling it a ‘study in contrasts’. Contrary to one interpretation of this I’ve heard preached, which is that we have to go on pestering God in prayer until he gives in and hands us the answer, Jesus is teaching that God is not like that at all…he doesn’t need nagging into action…he loves us and hears us the moment we speak to him.
[18:1] Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.  He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought.  And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
 “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think,  yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’ ”
 And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says.  And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off?  I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Luke 18:1-8 (NIV)
“How much more?” God is so much bigger than our image of him. That’s one of the reasons we need to be part of Christian community, so we can pool our images of God to get a bigger picture!
I looked back over the last three weeks, at our journey through Luke’s gospel from chapter 9 where we began to chapter 18, where we are today and tried to pick out some of the ways that Jesus demonstrates how God is so much bigger than our small ideas.
God is bigger than:
- our struggle with the cost of following Jesus
- our sense of inadequacy
- the boundaries of culture, gender, sexuality, religion, class…
- our struggles to pray
- our lack of discernment
- our desperate fight to keep our image intact
- our attempts to ‘play God’
- our poor choices
- our personality…introvert or extrovert
- any bad thing we’ve ever done or are likely to do
- our search for freedom
- our failure to understand who Jesus is
- the people who want to oppress us
- the bad taste we sometimes leave in the world
- our attempts to earn God’s love
- our failure to understand and to do what Jesus says
- our lack of gratitude
- our tendency to sell our ideas as God’s ideas
- our inclination to see God as stingy and hard-faced
A good friend of mine used to say that, “he doesn’t know how people who don’t know Jesus yet get along, as they must have to make it up as they go along”.
Sometimes, confronted by a list like the one above, I wonder how I’d get along if God’s grace wasn’t so much more than my feeble attempts to follow Jesus and try to resemble him.