If I’m learning anything in this late-life effort to finish a master’s degree, it is that a person’s view of God affects all that we think or do. That is, if my foundation and end goals are anything other than God, then I have made another god, for He alone is the first and the last. There is no one or nothing that can be what He is or do what He can do — unless I tell myself lies and refuse to worship Him.
Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen. Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.” (Isaiah 44:6–8)
Today’s devotional says that to deny the transcendence of Almighty God puts my moral life in danger for when God is not God (in my estimation only, for what I think does not change who He is), then good ceases to be beautiful and sin ceases to be ugly. Whenever my idea of good and my evaluation of evil begin to blur and I treat neither as important, then I have lost the wonder of God, His holiness and surpassing excellence.
Writers are told to be careful with protagonists and villains for there is good and evil in all. That is, show the quirks in your hero and the soft side of your antagonist. Make them real, not flat, uninteresting and unbelievable. While I agree with that advice, we are also told that the human race really has no authority to say what is right and what is wrong. For many the divine Word, “Thou shalt not” is passé, and there is no atonement for guilt, even no guilt because there is no Spirit of a holy God to convince of sin. If God is acknowledged, He is kindly — like a grandfather, or absent like many contemporary fathers. Such thinking confuses good with evil and messes with my conscience.
I’m a closet fiction writer with a strong imagination for plot, yet I also realize that logical outcomes do not work either. The world wants ‘out of the box’ thinking but it must fit their worldview. That is, my hero can be good or bad, but never weak. In story life, the weak do not win, nor do those who worship God. Both are seen as powerless because the idea is that God is weak, powerless, even absent, and certainly not holy or excellent.
In this week’s lectures, one of my professors says that God seems bent on carrying out His work on earth with one arm tied behind His back. That is, the church and individual Christians are weak and unable. We seem like the ‘heroes’ in a bad book of fiction, or worse, the villains. However, the Bible says God uses those who are weak to demonstrate His great power. Paul expressed it concerning his own status. As the “hero” of the faith, he was not perfect or strong, but weak.
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7–10)
Again, this goes back to my ideas about a transcendent God. If God is God, then I am nothing and must be okay with that. Weakness makes me rely on Him, but so does having a strong concept of who He is, of His transcendence. If I decide He is anything less (even though He cannot be anything less), then I will rely on myself and my own ideas, and thus write a confusing and foolish plot for my own life.