The God Who Gets Smaller

Last Sunday, I spoke at a friend’s church. Prior to service, I was standing on one side of the room visiting with one of their leaders. Across the room I saw a family visiting with their little girl and pointing my direction. She might be three years old and one of the cutest creatures I’ve ever seen. It was apparent she had Down Syndrome. After some encouragement from her mom, she gleefully ran toward me with arms outstretched. As she approached, I squatted down low so I could meet her gaze and her embrace. I got smaller so I could connect.

In this Advent season we enter again into the anticipation of the incarnation. C.S. Lewis refers to the incarnation as the “Grand Miracle.” It’s the one miracle no one could have predicted. Who would predict that a God so big could become so small?

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul draws our attention toward this journey to smallness.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5–8, ESV)

The omnipresent One becomes a human limited to a single place. The omniscient One has to learn to speak and read. The omnipotent One becomes dependent upon the power of the Father by the Holy Spirit. The King of all became the servant of all.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14, ESV)

God reveals himself by becoming small.

Though this is ultimately true in the incarnation, it is consistently true in all of history.

Ever wonder how an omnipresent God is so invisible? One reason might be that He is so big. In His unlimited majesty, God’s presence is undetectable to our finite sensory capacities. We do not perceive Him, not because He is distant, but because He is infinite and we are finite. And yet we sometimes experience His presence. Sometimes He reveals Himself. Sometimes we experience His touch and the movement of His grace and power. We call this His “manifest presence.” Unveiled. Unhidden. Revealed.

The God who ultimately revealed Himself in Jesus’ incarnation, showed us who He is by getting smaller. I think maybe this is how He always does it. In moments when His presence crashes in on us, in every encounter with His glory, it’s not because He is “increasing” His presence among us. Quite the opposite. It’s  because He is limiting Himself to the capacity of our perception. He is the God who gets small.

He gets small so He can connect.


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