Freedom from Freedom: Theological Freedom (Part 2 – Does everybody want to be God?)

As we mentioned last post, Jesus Christ wants you to be His slave. Do you like that? Or do you dislike that? Why?

 

We’ll come back to that later. For now, let’s get to the meat of this post.

 

Everybody wants to be God…or do they?

Christians believe and teach this: Everybody has, as part of their sinful nature, a desire to be like God. We want to be God.

However, if you walk up to an atheist or an agnostic and you say “You, sir, want to be God!” then they will say “No, I don’t.” And then the appropriate response is “Yes, you do,” followed by “no, I don’t.”

Now, for us in the first place to make assumptions as to what is in someone else’s head is the height of arrogance, and one of the fastest ways to lose any sort of credibility in the topic we are teaching about. When Liberals say “Conservatives think blah blah blah” and when Conservatives say “Liberals think blah blah blah,” they lose their ability to persuade. Words like these only incite people who already agree with them anyway.

However, if God says it, that is a different story. Because…

Prov 15:11 (NLT)

Even the depths of Death and Destruction are known by the LORD. How much more does he know the human heart!

And even if someone is not a Christian…I personally don’t know anyone who believes in God, but doesn’t believe that God is all-knowing.

So let’s go back to the scenario with the unthinking, tactless Christian and the Atheist.

Christian says “You want to be God!” The Atheist says “No, I don’t!” How can this be? As I see it, the following are the only options.

  1. The Atheist is lying.
  2. The Christian knows God said it, but God is wrong (not likely. Again, if God exists, then it’s safe to assume He is all-knowing.)
  3. The Christian thinks God said it, but God didn’t (This actually happens a lot).
  4. The Atheist does want to be God, but he doesn’t think he does. He misunderstands what the Christian is saying. (Which I blame on the Christian for not explaining his point)

 

And personally, I believe the answer is option D, although I do need to explore option C for a little bit.

 

Did God really say that everyone wants to be God?

For you Bible nerds out there who like long words that no one would ever use except for Bible scholars, we get to jump into some hamartiology (the study of sin) for a little bit.

Scripturally, I know of no time where God all out says “Every single one of you wants to be God.” So here’s where we get this idea from.

  1. Eve, when she went for the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (when sin first entered humanity, Genesis chapter 3). One of the primary temptations was the desire to become like God. The serpent (Satan) repeated what God had already told her, but Scripture also tells us that the desire to become like God was part of the equation for her.
  2. The following Scripture is written for the King of Babylon during the time of Isaiah, but many Christians believe it to be talking about Satan himself.

Isaiah 14:12-14 (NIV)

How you have fallen from heaven,

O morning star, son of the dawn!

You have been cast down to the earth,

you who once laid low the nations!

13 You said in your heart,

“I will ascend to heaven;

I will raise my throne

above the stars of God;

I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,

on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.  

14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;

I will make myself like the Most High.”
Christians believe that Satan tempts us to sin.

(Side-tangent: I believe that this can be true, sometimes, but it’s not something to be dwelt upon. Usually, I am perfectly capable of messing up all on my own, with no help from Satan. I also believe that Satan is not omni-present, and therefore he can only be in one place at once. So, he’s not going to be tempting me and then tempting someone else at the same time. Now, he’s got spiritual forces that do his bidding, however, He who is in me, Jesus Christ, is greater that Satan Himself. So how much more true with Satan’s workforce? The end point: When I mess up, there is no one to blame but myself.)

If Satan tempts us to sin, and if this is what motivates our sinful side, then one might assume that our sinful side wants this for ourselves. If Satan wants to be God, then our sinful side wants to be God.

  1. c) Throughout history, the desire to be worshipped like God has been seen. Consider Nebuchadnezzar of the Babylonians. Consider the Roman emperors. And man, am I only naming a few.
  2. d) There is an interesting word in Hebrew to watch out for…the word “Hillel”. Hillel means to exalt, to lift up. The word Hillel always appears in a negative context when talking about people or idols, but it has two positive contexts. 1) Exalting God (Consider “Hallelujah”, “Hallel” exalt, “lu” = a suffix meaning that the subject is “we”, and “jah” = short for Yahweh ,God’s covenant name. “Hallelujah” means “We exalt Yahweh.”), and 2) When God “hillels”/lifts up/exalts people who serve Him.

So the Old Testament sets itself against those who exalt themselves, but praises those who exalt God, promising that God will also exalt them.

 

So this is another area where although God doesn’t explicitly say that every single person wants to be like God, it certainly seems strongly implied that this desire is a notable component of the sinful nature.

 

So why do I think the answer is D?

 

The Atheist, the Agnostic, and by the way, the Christian, too, all have a desire to be God. But they often fail to identify it. Observe:

 

Tactless Christian: “You want to be God!”

Atheist/Agnostic: “No, I don’t. I’m not really interested in controlling what’s going on in someone else’s life or being everywhere at once or any of that stuff that I think God does. I mainly just want to be in control of my own life and make my own decisions about what is right and what is wrong.

 

We desire, as individuals and as a collective society, to be the masters of our own destiny. Most of us do not want to be everybody else’s God…(although a few throughout history, and a few today, do.) We mainly want to be our own God, and be in charge of our own lives.

 

In fact, if you aren’t a Christian, I suspect that you aren’t too offended by my words right now. I suspect that you are thinking, “Yes. That’s exactly what I want.” Am I right? Am I wrong?

 

If you are a Christian, however, I suspect that you are struggling. You desire to be God, but you know you aren’t supposed to. Either that, or you love the idea of God as presented to you, but the idea of Him calling you to let go of the wheel is pretty unnerving, and rather arrogant of Him.

 

God is calling you to give up your freedom and be His slave. Is that desirable or undesirable to you?

Freedom from Freedom: Theological Freedom (part 1 – Why do people hate Christianity?)

Perhaps everybody feels persecuted. Many Christians feel under attack by atheists and cry “persecution!” Many atheists feel under attack by the religious, especially Christians, and cry “persecution!” Islam, Jews, etc.

Now, before we go any further, I am not under the illusion that the ideology of atheism is our biggest ideological enemy. In fact, in a room full of 50 people, you’ll be lucky to find one atheist. If we’re talking about ideologies, I believe that moral relativism and humanism are our most present enemies. More to come on this later.

 

However, I must say that in light of the core message of Christianity, I can’t really see how it’s all that offensive.

I mean, here’s the core message of Christianity in my own words:

  1. Everybody has sinned. (Does anybody really disagree?)
  2. Sin disconnects you from God. (Perhaps this is where people disagree and get angry, or debate how little their sin is or whatever)
  3. Jesus died and removed your sins, allowing you to reconnect with God. (What’s so bad or offensive about that?)

 

Now, don’t worry. I’m not so naïve as to think that everybody is thinking about this when they get mad at Christianity. They get mad at Christianity for many reasons, both legitimate and illegitimate. Reasons include…

  1. Christians are hypocrites.
  2. God kills people in the Old Testament. What a jerk.
  3. God demands that I worship him and no one else, and gets pissy if people worship Baal or someone.
  4. Christianity tells me how to live my life. Shut up, Christianity.
  5. Christianity has done some atrocious things in history. (I am not in the camp that says “The Crusades were an entirely defensive conflict!” Christians said, did, and reinforced things that were NOT of God during that conflict.)
  6. I don’t like the idea of someone else paying for my sins for me. If I did it, I should own up to it.
  7. Christianity and religion stifles free-thinking.
  8. Christians indoctrinate their children. Children should be taught to think for themselves.
  9. Christianity tells other religions that they are wrong. That’s just arrogant.

And so on and so forth.

 

Again, let me clarify: This is not a list as to why people don’t believe in Christianity. This is an incomplete list of reasons why people hate Christianity. I don’t believe that the story of Rapunzel and the tower actually happened…but I don’t hate the story. Yet, many people do not just disbelieve in Christianity, but they actively hate Christianity. Why?

 

Well, as to those reasons above, reasons B and C are a whole different issue that can be covered in a whole different blog post (I have a blog series that was my response to questions about the book of Joshua that kinda handles it). That issue is basically this: If you actually believe that God exists, then that God will be in the judge’s chair, not the defendant’s chair. (If God is in the defendant’s chair, I ask you, who is in the judge’s chair?)

 

But as for all those other reasons to hate Christianity, all those reasons can be leveled at any other worldview just the same. Atheists also indoctrinate their children against religion just as much as the religious do (Any parent worth their salt guides their children on how to think, on how to discern truth from lies. On how to decide on what values to uphold above others. What idiot parent tells their child “Think whatever you want, don’t let me influence you…”?). Atheists, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhists, all of these worldviews contain hypocrites…people who preach and uphold the value of “integrity” but lie or bend the truth when it suits them. People who speak negatively about the person who lost their temper, but when they lost their temper they said “Oh, I was tired that day.” People that hold others to a different standard than the one they hold themselves to, even if they don’t realize they do it.

Or did you think that Christianity holds a monopoly on the world’s hypocrites?

“Christians tell me how to live my life.” Well, I have had people tell me, when learning that I don’t drink, that I need to loosen up a little and have a drink to learn to have a good time. People have said to me “Do, it, Carson. Just say f*ck. C’mon, let me hear you say it.” (As you know, I am not offended by profanity…I just choose not to do it.) I have listened to people, media, etc. descend like vultures on someone as soon as the word “virgin” is uttered, telling them about how they need to just get laid to loosen up, right before going through their contact list to see who they can hook up with their “poor, sheltered friend.”

“Christianity tells me how to live my life…” You think Christianity tells you how to live your life? Everyone is telling you how to live your life.

In light of this, I really don’t understand how Christianity got put in the crosshairs.

 

Actually, scratch that. There is a small, small chance that I do know what put it in the crosshairs. But just a guess. And it all comes back to our “Freedom from Freedom” thesis.

 

Christianity…actually, no, let me word that differently. Jesus Christ is asking you, whether you are a Christian or not, to do something you probably don’t want to do.

Jesus Christ wants you to be his slave.

Jesus Christ wants you to give up your freedom, your life, and devote it to Him.

And that sentence doesn’t target Christians, or non-Christians. It targets everyone.

 

Luke 9:24 (NLT)

If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.

 

1st Corinthians 7:22 (NIV)

For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave.

 

So my next question, before we get into our next post: How do you feel about the fact that Jesus asks that of you?

 

…because it would’ve been so much simpler if Jesus had asked me for a couple bucks. Or if Jesus had asked me just to be nicer to people. But slavery? Holy crap, man.

Continued next post