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Part one

Living the larger life:
Your view is too small

By Robert C. Crosby

 

“Faith is the gaze of the soul upon a saving God.”
— A.W. Tozer

You were made to live the larger life. That’s right. Not only are we called to live life as believers, according to Jesus we are called to live it “to the full”1 — to live the larger life.

Just what does that mean? In our hearts we know there is “something more” … more to see, experience and to know in life. But how can we embrace or realize it? How can we live the larger life?

Let’s take a closer look at what it means to live the life Jesus purchased for us on the cross. Let’s broaden our view, open our souls, brighten our witness and magnify our moments. I invite you to ask the Holy Spirit to rejuvenate your soul along the way.

Picturing God

A father walked into the family room. His 6-year-old son sat on the floor surrounded by crayons busily at work on an art project.

“What are you drawing?” the father asked.

“God,” the boy replied.

“Nobody knows what God looks like,” the father said.

“They will in a minute!” the son fired back.

It’s true — no one really knows what God looks like, but we can know what He is like. In order to live the larger life we first need a larger view of God.

J.B. Phillips’ book Your God Is Too Small has been a best-seller. The title itself is convicting because we live in a world that thinks big thoughts about men and small thoughts about God. Few things can hold us back more in our Christian life than a small view of God. A small view will keep us living a smaller life.

My own too-small-a-view of God became strikingly clear to me — not in the middle of a church service, but of all places, on my honeymoon. I’ll never forget what happened.

My wife, Pamela, and I stood at the base of Toronto’s CN Tower, the world’s tallest self-supporting structure. This man-made structure soars upwards some 300 times my own height (to 1,815 feet 5 inches, to be exact).

Just an hour earlier, when we approached the city, the same structure that now engulfed me was merely an intriguing blip on the horizon. From afar, it could fit between my two fingers. The closer I got, the more impressive it became. Up close, my senses were overwhelmed.

Paul the apostle apparently had a similar experience with an engulfing “tower” of a different kind. In Romans 12:1, Paul calls us to a deeper commitment, but first he summons us to take a clearer look … at God: “I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.”

Paul attaches this essential doorway of commitment to a “hinge” in the form of a phrase: “in view of God’s mercy.” In essence, the principle of offering one’s body as a “living sacrifice” is connected to a new perspective. Doing God’s will is somehow linked to the grace of being able to “see” more of who He is and of what He has already done for us.

As long as you continue to journey on the outskirts spiritually, your view of God is too manageable to ever be marvelous, too scaled-down to ever be truly significant. From a distance, your view will remain distorted and unimpressive. God will be close enough to consider, yet distant enough never to impose nor interfere.

The deep end of the pool

Just prior to this passage in Romans 12, Paul draws our attention to his own vivid view of God: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen” (Romans 11:33-36).

Paul’s view of God and His mercy was no distant image. There was a depth to his awareness and experience in God. Take a closer look at what he said: “For from him and through him and to him are all things” (Romans 11:36, italics mine). In other words, God is the origin (“from him”), the propulsion (“through him”), and the destination (“to him”) of life itself. These verses are meant to be powerfully experienced.

Paul invites us into the deep end of the pool. He beckons us to stop weighing insights at the water’s edge and plunge into God’s presence — not just meditate, but marinate. We experience God through total surrender. We live the larger life by thinking larger thoughts of God and devoting our very bodies to His service.

Paul turns from the glories above (Romans 11) to the opportunities below (Romans 12) and calls every believer to respond. As his view of God enlarges, the apostle recognizes that commitment and obedience on man’s part are neither an astounding response nor above and beyond the call of duty. It is simply a reasonable and appropriate response to a clearer view of something simply astounding — the mercy of God and God himself.

Between my two fingers

As overwhelming as the CN Tower was up close, 25 miles away its image had fit between my two fingers and done little more than spark a bit of intrigue. We often see God in much the same manner.

When God fits between your two fingers, you can place Him wherever you want. You can move Him out of your way. You can pull Him off of the shelf whenever you think you need Him.

This smaller version of God is accessible enough to be periodically admired, and yet small enough to be quickly placed out of sight when you don’t want to be bothered or interrupted. Rather than fitting yourself into God’s world, you fit your smaller view of God conveniently into yours.

Living the larger life requires getting a larger view of God — of His person, His character, His greatness.

If God is only a Sunday-morning focus in your life, you don’t have a large enough view.

If you are not honoring the Lord with all of your resources, you don’t have a large enough view.

If you’re not worshipping God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, it stands to reason that you don’t have a large enough view.

A better view

Enjoying lunch atop the CN Tower’s 143,300 tons of reinforced concrete, my wife and I took our time at the revolving Sky Pod Restaurant. We determined to give our senses ample time to absorb the vivid panorama of this beautiful city. Throughout our visit, my mind reeled over all that must have gone into creating this place — the dreaming, the planning, the engineering.

How can you and I enlarge our view of God and of His greatness today? God has provided several “windows” to help widen, deepen and broaden our perspective of Him.

Pray. The greatest communications system in the world is not Verizon Wireless, but the God-given resource of prayer. When you have a relationship with Jesus, prayer is no longer something you have to do; it is something you are privileged to do. Prayer is much more than a laundry list of requests and petitions. Prayer lets us know God better, experience His presence, seek Him and pour out our hearts to Him. Prayer is a window to heaven.

Remember. David improved his view and refreshed his relationship with God by remembering God’s faithfulness. Numbers of psalms record David’s memories of God’s goodness in his life and in the nation of Israel. “O Lord God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you” (Psalm 89:8). Whenever David began to be emotionally overwhelmed with life, he would pause and remember the “good times” in his walk with God.

Meditate. David’s psalms affirm that he was committed to thoughtful worship and meditation. “On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night” (Psalm 63:6). “My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises” (Psalm 119:148). Meditation on God is a great way to begin the day, and to end one as well.

Worship. God wants us to praise and worship Him more often than once a week at a worship service. Praise and worship occur anytime we pause and express to God our adoration, our affection and honor. My view improves whenever God is magnified and my thoughts of Him are enlarged.

Unseen realities

People of faith live the larger life … the life Jesus promised and called us to experience. They live larger because they see more clearly. They brighten their view of God every day through worship, prayer, meditation and remembrance.

Paul also prayed that the Ephesian Christians would gain a better view, that they would see and know God more fully: “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.”2

From a distance, perception is deceiving. An 1,800-foot-tall tower turns into a little toothpick I can twiddle between my fingers. Up close, however, the truth is made known. I find that the “tower” is so much more than I had imagined and that, instead, I am the “toothpick” by comparison.

Your larger life will begin with a larger view. It comes like everything else God offers — by grace and through faith. As you begin to see with your soul the God who is “great, and greatly to be praised,”3 faith will flow. The view will be like nothing you have ever seen.

1John 10:10 (NIV)
2Ephesians 1:17-19
3Psalm 96:4 (KJV)


Next week: "Your character is too important."

Robert C. Crosby is senior pastor of Mount Hope Christian Center in Burlington, Mass. He is the author of several books, including Funtastic Conversation Starters for Parents and Children (Focus on the Family/Honor) and More Than a Savior (Multnomah).

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