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  • Clayton Knight

You’re going to need a bigger God in 2024.

WARREN – There’s a scene in the movie Jaws where the main character is hunched over toward the back of the boat, throwing chum out into the water.


The water is red with blood and fish guts.



At once, a massive shark's face breaks the surface of the water, revealing rows and rows of razor-sharp teeth. The main character stands up completely petrified. His eyes widen and refuse to blink in awe of the sheer scale of this fish.


Suddenly, the boat doesn’t seem big enough. With an unflinching gaze fixed on the open water before him, he begins to slowly walk backward into the cabin of the boat. There, we see the old captain at the helm. With an unbreaking stare, the main character finally breaks his silence with one of the most iconic lines in film history:


“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”


At the risk of being misunderstood, there’s something about that scene that I want to recover for myself and for my church in 2024.


Now, before you think I’m completely bonkers, allow me to state what should be obvious: God is not a terrifying, man-eating shark. Nor does he want people to be horrified at the thought of him. God is not on the hunt to kill, but to save (2 Peter 3:9).


We know that “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). The Lord is no killer great white, but a God of incomprehensible love.


But I fear that we often misunderstand just how shocking—how radical—God’s love is because we fundamentally misunderstand God. And if we misunderstand God, we certainly misunderstand ourselves in relation to him.


In my experience, a phrase like, “God loves you” rarely jolts anyone like it should. Even now, I can picture the phrase on a bumper sticker stuck to the back of a rusty old van in front of me at a red light. I may read that phrase while I’m waiting for my light to turn green, but it doesn't cause my pulse to race. My eyes don’t widen. I’m not speechless. I’ve heard it before. I’m not moved. I’m not in awe. Frankly, I’m bored with it.


Boredom with God is a cancer in the church. But boredom with God is a symptom of an even deeper disease: idolatry. It occurs when I (or my problems, desires, needs, situation) am “bigger,” “more important,” or “more dominant” than God. We get bored with God when he becomes small, tame, and completely predictable to us. Boredom with God occurs when we’ve reduced him down to a mere function of meeting our felt needs, like a therapist in the sky.


For many church-going people, God is folded neatly into a box. They’ll take him out of this box when they go to church, or when a crisis arises, or they need some extra help, but other than that, they’ll put him right back in their little box until they want to bring him out again.


People who have God in a box may even think that they’re doing God a favor when they take him out of it.


“Hey God, aren’t you happy with me? I took you out of your box. I went to church today! I read my Bible! I prayed! I even gave an offering.”


One obvious problem with God-in-the-box is that it’s unbiblical. Another problem is that it’s boring.


You won’t risk anything from a God who can fit into a box. You won’t feel pressed to change for “tame.” You won’t give up sinful habits for “average.” You won’t do the hard work of cultivating holiness for “boring.” You won’t be able to endure suffering, sickness, or grief with “puny.” Your husband won’t get off the couch for “meh.” Your kids won’t put down their phones for “lame.” You won’t risk your job, your health, or your future for “snooze.”


But the wonderful truth is that God is not boring, tame, average, or puny. I think if our churches are going to flourish in 2024, we’ve got to wake people out of their boredom with God. We need a recalibration of who God is and who we are. We are pots; he’s the Potter.


A few weeks ago, I asked my people: What if God?


“What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” (Romans 9:22)?


I dare you to read that verse again slowly and then ask yourself: What if God wants to do that?


Is that okay with you? This is not the kind of God who gives me warm fuzzies. I would not write this verse on a Christmas card. But this is the God of the Bible.


Yes—he’s loving, he weeps with those who weep, a broken and contrite heart he will never despise, he’s patient and desires that all people might be saved.


Yes—he’s a lamb, but he’s also a lion. You don’t have a box big enough for this kind of God.


Just like the guys in the movie Jaws were at the mercy of the shark, the truth is that we are all totally at the mercy of God. And when you see that it is this kind of God who loves you, you’ll realize that he is anything but boring.


 




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Clayton Knight has served as the senior pastor at Warren Woods Baptist Church in Warren, Michigan since 2021. He’s married to his best friend, Sarah, and they have a daughter named Aubrey.

 



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