There are many things in our lives that get magnified: personal troubles, financial struggles, health issues, family and relationship conflicts, and possessions. We call this blowing things out of proportion or making mountains out of molehills. We are all prone to doing this. I do this, and I suspect none of us is immune to magnifying lots of things in our lives—we’re all guilty of making various things appear larger than they are in reality.
But when we do this, one thing—someone—often gets reduced in size: God. Sometimes God ends up looking pretty small to us and ends up being small compared to everything else going on around us and in us. Cares and circumstances reduce God to a bit player in our lives, when not only is he supposed to be the major player in our lives but the director of our lives.
Or maybe God gets de-magnified in another way. Over the years sometimes we grow pretty familiar with church routine. We’ve heard all the hymns and praise songs, so we end up singing them by rote. We’ve heard sermons countless times, it seems, and the pastor rarely brings something fresh to the pulpit. The significance of the Bible stories we read lessen in impact because of repetition. And perhaps some of us as a result have reduced God to being no bigger than our experience of church.
God is already infinitely larger and greater than we can ever hope or imagine or understand. But he doesn’t always seem that way to our eyes. By proclaiming his greatness, his wonderful deeds, and his awesome character, by lifting our praises heavenward with expectant hearts, he will be magnified; that is, our perception of him will enlarge to better reflect who he really is. I also found this quotation on magnifying God, which I think is great. There's not much I can really add to it (though on Sunday I'll try!):
“Devout Christians are not exempt from not realizing the greatness of God. They may love the Lord and serve Him faithfully yet be so overwhelmed by their circumstances and fail to see that God is bigger. Magnifying God means seeing his greatness and superiority over every aspect of our lives. It means seeing God as being greater than any obstacle or challenge that comes our way. Magnifying God means proclaiming God's greatness and superiority over every aspect of our lives. God is magnified through praise for it proclaims his greatness and mighty acts (Ps 86:12, 13). Praise magnifies God in our eyes by reminding us of what he has done (Ps 107). It is the magnifying glass through which we see God's greatness. A magnifying glass does not make anything bigger that it really is but only magnified in our eyes (perception). In like manner, God is already great and magnified in the universe but through the magnifying glass of praise, so to speak, he is magnified in our eyes (perception) as well."
And, really, magnifying God is almost synonymous with praising God. In fact, until this week it never really occurred to me to think of magnifying God as anything other than a synonym for praising God. But for me the penny dropped when I realized that having God magnified is the result of our praise and worship and ought to be one of the reasons and motivations for our worship. And so all of the questions I had about praise -- like, why do we do it? -- were essentially answered. For some of you, this insight may not be new, but for me it feels pretty fresh. I just never thought of it this before. All I can say is that I found myself feeling quite grateful for how God helped me see this.
So, let me ask you: in what ways do you find God reduced in your eyes? How do you magnify God in your life? Does your experience of praising God in worship enable you to magnify him? I'd love to hear anyone else's thoughts on this.