Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Deus Semper Minor; The Small Way

Recently, and for the first time, I heard a friend speak the Latin words Deus semper minor. The literal translation of this is "God always smaller". I have been thinking about this. A lot.

Big American God
This little phrase seems to me to be disconnected with what we Americans like to hear. I mean, after all, we are Americans, dammit. We won the West, built the Transcontinental Railroad, conquered polio, won World War II, and put a man on the moon. Our God is not smaller, He is Bigger, and don't you forget it!

And today, we have lots of attractive televangelists telling us things like "It's Your Time" and "Become a Better You" and "Your Best Life Now". That God is not small. He is powerful. And Big. And friendly, and has good hair, no doubt. He even wants us to get rich, and He thinks poverty is for loosers.

A small God? We think not! We like him Big, and Tough, and Vindictive for our side.

Little Real God
But just look around at real life. Seems that quite often, God is actually, well, small.

Small in His seeming inability to stop poverty, unless we help Him. Small in His ability to heal all the sick, unless we fight like hell for years to find the cure. What about My Best Life Now, where is Big American God? What about that baby born with the genetic defect that will take his life before he is even three months old? Is this a little God? What about broken relationships, where is Big God in this?

But maybe the problem with God's apparent size is not really about size at all. We have distorted our expectations of both God's size, but also of what He is choosing to do in our world, and what He might want to do within, well, ......us.

Perhaps God's way is small. Small in the love we offer a friend, who is lonely, or sick, or hurting. Small, in sitting still and quietly listening to a friend share their hurt and frustration at how life does not seem fair. Small, in the form of money spent to feed others, rather than make ourselves feel comforted. Small, as we love those around us who seem to be poor in spirit.
Small in the form of a hand held at a bedside in the final moments of life.

Maybe, after all, Deus Semper Minor. What do you think?

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