I’ll get right down to business. The other day I was talking to a very good friend of mine about the things I believe. I admit, that I probably came across as too aggressive, which unfortunately ended our conversation abruptly. I apologized for it, despite not regretting my intentions. One thing that I do regret though is my response (or lack thereof) to something my friend said early in our short-lived conversation.
When I asked my friend how they felt about God, they responded, “How can God send some people to hell while others are allowed to live in heaven based off of their belief in Him? That’s pretty narcissistic of Him.”
I then responded with the fact that we are all deserving of hell, no one is good, etcetera, and continued to go through the motions of preaching to my friend things we have heard all of our lives – so much so that they have become nearly cliches (Not to say that these facts are not important, but that sometimes we need to hear something new or else we don’t really listen). Needless to say, my friend was not happy with me for preaching at them.
If I could hop in the Doc’s pathetic (yet awesome-looking) DeLorean and speed up to that famous 88 mph to go back to this moment in time (disregarding the fact that there would be two of me at this time, of course), I would respond differently.
“Yes,” I would say. “That is pretty narcissistic of Him.“
I love Calvin and Hobbes. Bill Watterson accurately portrays today’s society and it’s views on tolerance and morals in this little strip which I can only assume was drawn by him back in the early 90s or late 80s. In my discussions with a lot of different people, I have found that we live in a world where “good” is relative to the person perceiving it.
Today’s world finds us mortal humans encouraging each other in practices that should not be acceptable, all the while telling ourselves “to each his own” and whatever other garbage we can feed our brains in an effort to morally distance our lives from everyone else’s (lives that is – not brains). Today finds it’s cultures embracing an ideology that states that we have 70-or-so years in this Universe, and that’s it – we might as well make the most of our lives while we can and enjoy living while we still breathe. Suffice to say, we have become a detached and self-serving society.
With this detached, self-serving attitude, we have individually developed a wall of comfort around us each with our own convenient beliefs. These beliefs span a wide range of topics from “Everything and Everyone is Good” and “God Probably Exists” to “God is Love and Nothing Else” and “If God Sends Good People to Hell, then I’d Rather be in Hell.”
These are all unfounded ideologies we create for ourselves to make life easier, emotionally/mentally/spiritually, so that we can live out the rest of our short lives in ease and comfort. I know because I used to fall in the first and third categories at different times. It’s one of the most common defense mechanisms used…ever – when things start getting hard, make those things go away. It’s quite simple actually.
Allow me to shake your world just like mine was shaken recently. Life is not supposed to be easy by any means. If life is easy for you, then you might just be living wrong. From the moment you first took a breathe of oxygen in this Earth, your life was destined to be a difficult one, in one way or another. It’s how you overcome these difficulties that make you who you are, not how you find a way around them. Life only gets easy when it ends.
Yikes. That’s harsh, isn’t it? Yep, but it’s time for some tough love.
Here’s some more tough love. God isn’t all rainbows and flowers and pink-maned unicorns. He’s God – Lord of the Whole Freaking Universe and Creator of Things You Can’t Even Fathom. He sentenced us all to hell when we were disobedient toward Him, a just punishment. But in His righteous mercy and compassion, He then came to Earth in the form of Jesus and lived a perfect life apart from sin and then died (death being the consequence of sinning – anyone who commits no sin does not die), thus breaking the Law of Sin (the previous parenthetical). Then He raised Himself from the dead under His own power, breaking the Law of Death.
That’s two Laws broken in three days. That’s like one of us breaking the Law of Gravity and Newton’s First Law of Motion in three days. So I think it’s safe to say that God is Awesome and Completely Beyond Fathoming.
So forgive me when I say that God has a right to be narcissistic (entertaining the ridiculous notion that we mortal beings can give God “rights”).
Google defines narcissism as “Extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration.”
I think it’s safe to say that God’s talents are Grandiose, what with the whole Creating the Universe and Breaking Two Laws in Three Days thing. So what about the other two properties of narcissism according to this definition? They are both evident throughout the Bible, which calls God “jealous” on numerous occasions. In fact, even the LORD Himself calls Himself “a jealous God” on occasion.
With special thanks to Denny Burk, I came across this passage of Scripture:
“‘I am the Lord; that is my name!
I will not yield my glory to another
or my praise to idols.'”
– Isaiah 42:8
I mean c’mon, look at this! “My praise”? “My glory”? God’s full of Himself! But Denny Burk makes the valid point that “God is the only being for whom self-exaltation is not a vice, but a virtue.”
To expand on this idea, let me give you the grand opportunity to stand in (kind of) God’s place for thirty seconds.
Say you find a way to create an organic computer that adapts itself to its surroundings and can think and feel. Then you create a magnificent environment for this being and let it run loose in this environment, doing whatever it pleases. Now you have put all this time and energy into creating this intelligent being and giving it a perfect environment to live in. Wouldn’t it be nice to have at least a little recognition from this being? Think about that before you answer.
Well God didn’t even kind of do that. No, God created each and every one of us – 7 billion living and 40-some-odd billion dead. Then He created an ever-expanding universe for us to reside in. Then we disobeyed Him over and over and over and over again. So He thought that it would be good to come and live a mortal life on this Earth so that He could then die an excruciating death in order that these disobediences would no longer be counted against us.
So in my mind, it is absolutely unfair that God ask us to believe in Him and in our inability to create our own salvation in order to receive that salvation. I mean, if after everything He has done, this is all He asks of us, I find it extremely unfair to Him. As I see it, every breath that we breathe that is not in total worship and admiration to Him is unworthy of even passing through our lungs. So some might call Him Narcissistic, but I call Him The Embodiment of Grace Beyond Measure.
In the end, I’m sorry. I truly am. But if you are going to live this life that He has given you and not even admit that you are powerless without Him, you have no place with Him in eternity.
I know this seems a little darker than what I normally write, but I have recently been reading this wonderful collection of four consecutive lectures spoken by D. A. Carson at Dallas Theological Seminary back in the late 90s called “The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God.” It’s very short and Carson is very easy to read, but it is packed with challenging ideas. I encourage you to give it a read, if you have time. I believe it is like 10 bucks on Amazon, or something like that.
Essentially, it has challenged me to acknowledge other aspects of God. Today’s Christians like to focus on the love of God, but we have slowly but surely forgotten the Sovereignty of God and the Justice of God. As much as I love talking about the Love of God, I have realized that I put too much importance in the flowery goodness of God, just like the world today has decided that it deserves a God who will let everyone into heaven. But I forgot that God is God, not some wonderful idea in my head, and that his Justice, Righteous Wrath, and Sovereignty also need to be taken into account. So while John tells us in his first letter that “God is Love” (1 John 4:8, 16), He is also the Just and Righteous Ruler of the Universe who cannot abide with sin. So though it may be difficult to accept that some will spend eternity in Hell, it is not difficult to see why God would make it so. He doesn’t ask us to be good, or pray to Him twice a day – every day, or even to offer sacrifices to Him. He asks us simply to make a mental acknowledgment of salvation through Him alone. It’s not hard at all.
I won’t make you read anymore, because I know that at 1600 words, you’re probably thinking “just write a book already”. I will simply leave you with my closing thoughts.
I am not God and I didn’t save you from eternal death. I am merely a 22-year-old (just graduated from) college student, so taking me at my word would be foolish. Look at the evidence for yourself. Crack open your Bibles or whatever other texts you may like to look at (though I strongly encourage the Bible) and measure my words against fact and Biblical passages. Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or arguments, as I am always ready and willing to discuss things with anyone who wants to discuss. But please, please remember. I am not God, so don’t take my words as gospel.