By Joel Mitchell
“A god small enough to be understood is not big enough to be worshiped.” – Evelyn Underhill
The God of American Christianity often resembles a cross between a wish-granting genie and an inspirational speaker who wants you to know just how special you are. Such a God is inadequate for the real world and bears only a passing resemblance to the God of the Bible. Faith in this sort of God of the “prosperity gospel” leaves people disillusioned when they experience the pain and difficulty that are part of living in this broken world (John 16:33).
J.D. Greear’s book, Not God Enough: Why Your Small God Leads to Big Problems, calls people back to “the fear of the Lord.” Fearing God is not about cringing terror, but about reacting in awe to how infinitely great (and infinitely holy, and infinitely loving, and infinitely gracious, etc.) the eternal I AM is and just how small, limited, and dependent on him we are in comparison. How much better to have a personally loving Almighty Father than a prayer-operated cosmic vending machine!
Greear uses a skillful blend of Scripture exposition, illustrations, and humor to help give us some perspective (if such a thing is possible for our finite minds) on the infinite God who loves us. He also skillfully brings out what implications this has for our lives. I might quibble with how he interprets a few of the passages he uses, but this is an excellent and encouraging book that I would highly recommend.
Advertisements - Click the Speaker Icon for Audio
I would also (with some reservations) recommend pairing it with The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together by Jared C. Wilson. This book offers more “where the rubber meets the road” applications of what it looks like to live in light of God’s infinite grace in the day-to-day.
To be honest, I almost gave up on The Imperfect Disciple about a third of the way through. As the author expounded upon the important, beautiful idea that being a successful disciple is about living in the infinite grace of the Gospel rather than just doing a checklist of stuff, his irreverent style irked me. To me, he came off as repetitive, trying much too hard to be edgy/funny, and prideful in his criticism of practically all other discipleship books.
Then, around page 85 (of 240) things suddenly got much better as he began describing what it looks like to “behold God” and “live in the rhythm” of God’s grace. He offers simple but profound description of what it looks like to get to know God in his Word, prayer, and church community. I still wasn’t enchanted with his style, but if you can look past that there are excellent insights to be gleaned.
Don’t be content with a tame God-in-a-box who does what you want as long as you keep a list of rules and say the right prayers. Develop a relationship with the awe-inspiring, infinite God of the universe who loves you with a perfect love.
Joel Mitchell is the senior pastor at Griswold Street Baptist Church in Port Huron. His childhood and teenage years were spent bouncing between Caro, Michigan and Taguatinga Sul in Brazil’s Federal District. After eight years of pastoral ministry in Northeast Pennsylvania and Southern Indiana, he is happy to be back in Michigan. His wife, Karen, who grew up in the Pacific Northwest is glad to be living near water again, and his three children already love the beach life.
Pastor Joel’s desire is to lead Griswold Street Baptist to share the love of God with our community…not just in words, but “in deed and in truth.” In his spare time, he is an avid reader, reading and reviewing about 100 books per year.