The God who is Immense
But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built! (1 Kings 8:27)
Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 23:23–24)
I must admit that when I first came across the doctrine of the immensity of God I was a little amused. Of course God is big, I thought, why make a fuss about it? As I read on, though, I realised that I had made precisely the kind of mistake this understanding of God seeks to guard against
I once stood on top of one of the Twin Towers in New York, looking out from the roof of the largest building I had ever seen. Yet just over the way was an equally massive tower, its twin. Although both these buildings were vast, they were simply part of the skyline of Manhattan. Look out from the roof, and the mast on top the the Empire State Building was higher still. Go to New York today, and there are five skyscrapers taller even than that.
God’s immensity doesn’t mean that he is simply a very big being, bigger than anything else. It means that he is present everywhere. There is nowhere where he is not: as the old prayer has it, he is “everywhere present and fillest all things”. He is omnipresent, as the Psalmist points out:
“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.” (Psalm 139:7–10)
This means that we need never fear we are beyond the notice of God, or beyond his reach. We may feel a particular sense of God’s presence in an ancient church building, but he is as present in the plumbing aisle at B&Q.