"If then God gave them the same gift that God gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could hinder God?" - Acts 11:17
Years ago the Bible translator J.B. Phillips wrote a wise little book called Your God Is Too Small. He described how we use God as "a convenience, a prop, a comfort, for our own plans." We cut God down to our size instead of expanding our views to God's size.
The eleventh chapter of Acts tells the extraordinary story of Peter's vision of "clean and unclean" animals, and how he came to realize that the beloved community God has in mind was much bigger than the one Peter imagined.
Like Peter, many of us have come to the realization that our previous understandings of God's acceptance and embrace are too small.
The scope of God's love challenges every barrier that separates and divides, but our world still struggles under the weight of fear and violence. Daily we hear about "wars and rumors of wars," many of them fueled by religious hatred.
The language of Advent is the language of longing for a coming realm of peace, where "swords are beaten into ploughshares," and all are welcome and unafraid.
What acts of holy imagination can we envision to make our world more like God intends?
O God of all nations and people, expand the horizon of our love that more and more it may conform to yours. Amen.
Richard L. Floyd is Pastor Emeritus of First Church of Christ (UCC) in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and author of A Course In Basic Christianity and When I Survey the Wondrous Cross: Reflections on the Atonement. He blogs at richardlfloyd.com.