Monday, April 25, 2011

Would-Be Gods

I am one of those who writes my thoughts or others’ quotes on scraps of paper and then tucks them into my Bible.  Usually, these tidbits of wisdom or inspiration are put there because I think that, someday, I will have a use for them.

However, more often than not, they  are forgotten.  That is, until I get motivated to sort through the stack of sermon notes, clippings, sweet intimacies scrawled on Post-Its that are written to me from my grandchildren, and the bits and pieces of paper that are probably the only thing holding my Bible together.  The added challenge is the cover on my Bible and all of its zippered pockets and nooks and crannies that afford all kinds of additional places to secret away these things.  But when I do sort through them, I often discover a treasure trove of wisdom that can be applied to things I write here on the blog.

When I sat down today to study and read, one such item was found.  It was written on a Guest Check that came from our little pizzaria my husband and I operated several years ago.  The author of the quote is unknown to me because I failed to acknowledge him.  But as I read it and then re-read it, it dawned on me how true the words were, and not only from a historical viewpoint.  No, these words probably ring more true for the last century than the list of men from the past who were named, and maybe even more so now.

This is what I found:

“History is crowded with men who would be gods
(Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Maharishi Mehesh Yogi),
but only One God Who would be man - Jesus Christ.”

It must have struck me how many more names could have been added to the list, because I included a few more off the top of my head: Muhammad, Joseph Smith, Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Kim Il Sung, Mary Baker Eddy (and lets not forget the long succession of Catholic Popes).  And if we had the time to sit and jot more down, the list would be an endless parade of men (and women) who viewed themselves as some sort of god to be believed, worshiped, and elevated above the only God that deserves these actions.

Each one, in his or her own right, was a sort of antichrist that brought false gospels and/or wrought death and destruction through war, despotism, and a narcissistic, sociopath, ideological, or philosophical mindset.  It has been documented that more Christians have been slaughtered in the last century through the self-serving efforts of men and women like these than all the other centuries combined since Christ’s crucifixion.  You would think we would have learned by now.

But so goes the fallen world.  There is no shortage of sin, evil, and wickedness.  As those listed in the quote died and met the God they had rejected, another one took their place.  This could not be more evident as we now watch the Arab world unravel in living color on our television sets.  It causes some of us to wonder if our own would-be god, President Barrack Hussein Obama, and the rest of the world leaders really know if the ones they are supporting will not be as bad, or worse, than the ones they are helping to depose.  Only time will tell, but my pessimism is haunting me because, after all, we discovered that someone worse is possible in the last election.

But the most disturbing power position we can find the would-be god is in the church, and there is definitely no shortage of them there.  The person who wrote the above quote knew it then, and we know it now, even if we are not willing to admit it.  They are tireless in their attempts to overthrow the sovereignty of God, His divine nature, His Word, His will, His purpose , and His perfect justice.  Whatever He has erected, they are viciously trying to tear down.

In essence, these men and women who profess to know Him hate the fact that God holds dominion over them.  They would prefer it be the other way around, as is evident in the emergent, progressive, and universalist doctrine they espouse in their books, their speeches, and behind the pulpit where they "tickle" the ears and pervert the Word of God to suit themselves and their listeners.  Just as there is always another apostate standing in line to take over the damning work of the one before him, there is also an endless line of sinners willing to listen to and believe them.  The likes of Warren, Bell, Osteen, Copeland, Hinn, McClaren, Mayer, Oprah, ad-nauseum, are another endless parade of would-be gods lining up to become the next-great-mega-church-book-selling-apostate leading multitudes of hungry and deceived souls blithely into Hell.  And Satan, the first would-be god, could not be happier to have their assistance.

Those in the past who “would be gods”, who thought they could force themselves upon the world and hold it subject to themselves and their twisted philosophies, found out rather quickly that the “only One Who would be man” whom they met after death had other things in mind.  The terror they inflicted upon the world and the lies they conceived to deceive others was nothing compared to what awaited them - and it will last an eternity.

But there is always a solution to every problem, and there is a solution for these "would-be gods" to avoid a pretty miserable eternity.  The answer lies within the One Whose kingdom is in their cross hairs.  His Name is Jesus Christ.  Try as hard as they might to ignore or avoid Him now, they will meet Him one day - in peace or on the battle field.  And we,  His children, know Who it is that is victorious.

As my good friend, Andy, reminded me the other day in one of his recent blog posts, we also bear a heavy responsibility.  We are commanded to "be prepared in season and out of season"  (2Tim 4:1-3) when we are faced with the job of trying to sort out the true shepherds from those who would-be.  It is becoming a daunting task because of the number of them who have infiltrated the church and an even bigger challenge trying to separate them out from the true shepherds.  But while we are at it, we are also commanded to "reprove, rebuke, and exhort with complete patience and teaching."  As much as we would like to smack them up the side of the head to try and knock some sense into them, our response should be  gentle and "seasoned with salt" (the Word of God) and our anger held in check.

The Apostle Paul's words to the Colossians are those we should all bury deeply in our hearts so that when we are faced with the "would-be gods," in or outside the church, we are prepared to answer their destructive messages and actions. 

"Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person."  Colossians 4:5-6 - ESV

That's pretty sound advice.  Study the Word of God.  Know it better than you know yourself.  Apply it when we find ourselves in the company of unbelievers or those being led astray by wolves.  My experience has proven that it's difficult, if not impossible, to argue with the LORD'S own words.  He always wins.

Maybe if we take Paul's words to heart, the next time we meet one of the ever-growing number of "would-be gods" we will know better how to respond.  At least, with the LORD'S help, that's what I am planning for my next encounter.

Thanks for the reminder, Andy.


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