God and Egomania

bigA common objection against the character of God is levied against his commands to love him and worship him. Why does God command his people to love him in Deuteronomy 6:5? This seems indicative of a needy being who desperately lacks validation by his creation. Why does God says that he is a jealous God in Exodus 34:14? This seems to present a God who is petty and insecure, like an emotionally abusive boyfriend. Why does God say that he is acting for his own sake and that he will not give his glory to another in Isaiah 48:11? Doesn’t this present a God who is an egomaniac? This is a fair objection in some sense, though I categorically deny it and believe that with a little careful thinking, its error can be shown.

It is necessary, before proceeding, for me to prove one integral principle. It is this: The benefits of love received by a subject depend wholly on the goodness or lack of goodness regarding the object of that love. For instance, saying “John loves Katie” implies two things. The first and obvious principle is that Katie benefits from this love in the degree that John is good. If John is evil, Katie receives evil from his love, because that is a fundamental quality of John. This principle is apparent in abusive relationships. A man is evil, and though he loves his significant other, he hurts her because he is evil. Therefore, the benefits received by the object of love depend on the goodness of the subject who is loving, but as I stated earlier, this is obvious.Yet, the principle remains appropriate if inverted.. If Katie is evil, then John is not benefitted by this love in the same way as he would be if Katie were good.

Henry Scougal in his classic, The Life of God in the Soul of Man, postulates this idea. Though written in rather antiquated language, it is worth quoting at length for its eloquence:

That which imbitters love, and makes it ordinarily a very troublesome and hurtful passion, is the placing it on those who have not worth enough to deserve it, or whose absence may deprive us of the pleasure of their converse, or their miseries occasion our trouble.

This argumentation returns us to the original premise, that the benefits a subject receives by loving a thing are constitutionally committed to the goodness of the thing that the subject loves. This point is crucial to understanding the legitimacy of God’s command to love and worship him.

It is easy to see how this applies to the question of God and egomania. If God is perfectly good, commanding humans to worship him is not egomania; it’s natural. This, however, can be quite easy or quite difficult to prove depending on your view of Scripture. If you view the Bible as the literal revelation of God to humanity, verses such as 1 John 1:5 or Psalm 100:5 would certainly satisfy your curiosity that God is good. If you do not view the Bible in this way, you must come to either view the Bible as character revelation or view God as good independent of the proof of Scripture. If it were in the scope of this article, I would certainly attempt to tackle both, but for now, I must take a different route to meet this end.

For now, I will simply use a modification of Anselm’s argument for the existence of God. To summarize this argument, Anselm said that God is by definition a maximally perfect entity. Were he less than that, he would not be God. If God did not exist, he would be less than maximally perfect. Therefore, God exists. If we replace the factor of contingency that is existence and replace that factor with goodness, my point is clear. God is by definition a maximally perfect entity. Goodness is necessarily related to maximal perfection. Therefore, if God were not good, he would not be God. In short, God must be good because he is maximally perfect. Were he not good he would not be maximally perfect and by consequence not God.

Now, I must gather all of this evidence together into one cohesive argument. A person receives benefit from the object of their love proportionally to the goodness of that object. God is an infinitely good God. God commands humans to love and worship him. Finally then, we see that by making this commandment, God is commanding this for the unlimited good and benefit of the subject (humans) he commands to love him, the perfect Object.

I am certain that others could make a much more convincing case for God as being free from the negative trait of egomania in many fewer words. However, I felt that it was useful to write down my own thoughts on the subject. There is a greater truth here than just an argument or proof. Ultimately, the greatest truth in this line of thinking is this: loving God is for our perpetual good and satisfaction. It is the natural position of a creature created by such a Creator. Because of this, I say, “To God be the glory; great things he hath done.”


Avery Thorn is from Belmont, MS. He is a junior at Blue Mountain College, where he is a Biblical Studies major and a History minor. He is a member of Belmont First Baptist Church. He has a passion for preaching and studying Scripture. Avery’s hobbies include exercising, music, politics, reading, writing, and making and enjoying coffee. You can follow Avery on Twitter @Avery_thorn.

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Proper Posture and the Great Commission

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)

This is the Great Commission of Matthew’s gospel, given by Jesus as a final command to his disciples. It is a command to make disciples and uses three participles to designate the manner that is to be accomplished: going, baptizing, and teaching. This passage is extremely integral to the church, since it is a command to spread the good news of Jesus so that it may save souls and transform lives by making men and women into disciples of Jesus Christ.

However important the contents may be for the commission, though, the authority given to it is what determines its importance. It may be a good command, but if there is no authority behind it, it is not as important of a command. For example, If a young child tells another child not to eat a lot of sweets, that child is not likely to obey that command. By the same token, if that same child’s mother tells him not to eat a lot of sweets, he is likely (or at least more likely) to abstain from them. This is why Jesus prefaces the Great Commission with, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” The weight of the command is determined and accentuated by the the magnitude of the greatness of the one proclaiming it. Therefore, since Jesus has been given categorically all power in heaven and on earth, his command bears immeasurable weight.

This is where the posture of the disciple’s heart enters consideration. Even if the weight of the command is immeasurably heavy, keeping it still requires submission. If a man desires discipleship under Jesus, he must submit himself humbly to Christ’s authority. I believe that the way a person submits to Christ is divided generally into two ways.

  1. Understand that Jesus is greater than you.

There are many people who treat Christ flippantly: “Jesus is my BFF.” “Jesus and I are tight.” This attitude shows a true disassociation with who Jesus is. He is God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity. He has been given all power in heaven and on earth. He will return to judge the entire world in absolute righteousness. He is mighty, and he demands worship. Yes, we have a friend in Jesus, but do not forget that he is God.

In Mark chapter 4, Mark writes of Jesus’ disciples meeting a great storm on the sea. They wake Jesus up, he rebukes the storm, and it ceases. The disciples respond thus: “And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?’” They were filled with great fear. Jesus’ closest companions felt great fear when confronted with his greatness, yet we might have the audacity to treat him flippantly? God forbid.

This means you must realize that Jesus supersedes you. He is greater than you. He was sinless; you are sinful. He is powerful; you are weak. He is wise; you are foolish. If you want to fulfill the Great Commission, it is fundamentally true that you must submit to Christ and understand that he is greater than you.

  1. Value Jesus’ will as greater than your own.

This is an integral part of submitting to Christ. Valuing Jesus’ will this way is important, because it both reveals a true love for him (by keeping his commandments and valuing his word) and a respect for his wisdom by understanding the perfections of his will.

Submitting t0 Christ means surrendering your will, and Christ is clear about this. He says quite famously that anyone who loves their mother or father more than him is not worthy of him (Matthew 10:37). You must deny yourself of your own desires and your own view of perfection in favor of Christ’s. You cannot serve both yourself and Christ.

In fact, this is part of any real relationship. Wills between parties conflict in relationships, and part of the resolution to this conflict is that one party must show deference to the other. This is true of a Redeemer-redeemed covenant relationship too. Jesus’ words and ways will conflict with your will. Yet, this conflict is a true test of discipleship. Will you be stubborn, or will you yield to the immaculate Christ? If you will not, do not pretend that he is your God. Christ will not be bent to the will of men, perpetually permitting their behavior. If you will not bend to the will of Christ, he is not your God; he is an therapeutic idealization of a god, an idol of the mind.

Therefore, it takes both understanding Christ’s surpassing greatness and valuing his will over your own. If you do not think he is greater than you, his words are unlikely to inspire any real change in your thought or behavior. If you do not value his will over your own, you are unlikely to carry out any of those commands. But if you submit to him by realizing his greatness and valuing his will, his words will be like sweet honey and you will be in a great hurry to fulfill his commandments.

This summary returns us then to the Great Commission. It is obvious that there is a direct relationship between submission to Christ and following his commandments. This is a commandment of Christ. Now that you have evaluated your love for him and the value of his will, it is time to ask: Will you fulfill this commandment?


Avery Thorn is from Belmont, MS. He is a junior at Blue Mountain College, where he is a Biblical Studies major and a History minor. He is a member of Belmont First Baptist Church. He has a passion for preaching and studying Scripture. Avery’s hobbies include exercising, music, politics, reading, writing, and making and enjoying coffee. You can follow Avery on Twitter @Avery_thorn.

Practical Lessons From Gethsemane

The Garden of Gethsemane is both a place of sorrow and triumph for a person traveling through the Gospels. It is a place of sorrow, because he sees the focus of the Gospels, Jesus, “being in agony [as] he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). This Jesus that he has witnessed perform many miracles and healings, while proclaiming the good news that the kingdom of God had come, is now suffering under the burden of the sin of all those who he would save. He watches this same Jesus drink the cup of the will of God down to the last drop.

Yet, it is a moment of monumental victory. Christ faces his supreme temptation of disobedience of the Father with obedience to the will of the Father. As Adam fell in the original garden, the greater Adam is victorious in his garden. The person reading the gospels goes on to see exactly what that will is: nothing short of the salvation of those who would believe on him by the death of Jesus taking upon himself all of the wrath of God. There are a few important lessons to learn from Christ’s time in Gethsemane.

  1. God’s will for you probably does not always include earthly prosperity.

One of the common distortions of the truth of God is that he always wills that you have earthly success. One of the reasons that this is a true misrepresentation of God’s character is found at Gethsemane. Christ prayed there that the cup he was about to drink from would pass from him. Yet, Christ prayed that what God had willed be done. What God had willed for Christ is that he suffer torture and death by crucifixion. By this example, it is obvious that our prayers should not be, “Lord, please give me success in my earthly endeavors.” This is a violation of Christ’s example here and in Matthew 6, where he taught his disciples to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done.”

Part of the good news of Christianity is that God works together good things for all those who love him (Romans 8:28). We could probably express this teaching like this: A lack of a perfect life means that God has planned for you something greater than a perfect life, assuming you are his. Whether, then, it is prosperity or hardship that God sends to you, sing his praises with joy, for, no matter the earthly circumstances, at his right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).

  1. Violence to other people has no place for followers of Christ.

There was a battle won in Gethsemane, and it had nothing to do with physical struggle. Jesus struggled against a greater enemy than that of man. Jesus struggled with the temptations of Satan and the weight of an unimaginable spiritual burden, and Christ overcame those enemies triumphantly. Yet, when the religious leaders entered the garden to take Jesus, he did not lift one hand against them. They came for his life, and he did not defend it. In fact, when one of his disciples tried to attack one of those leaders, Jesus rebuked him. Yet, somehow people seem to forget Jesus’ meek and mild nature.

There seems to be a growing idealization of violence among Christians towards others they do not agree with, especially against Muslims. Many people fantasize about what they would do if a jihadist walked into their room. They fantasize about violence to that person. They plan to do violence to those who want to do violence to them. This is categorically contrary to the teachings of Jesus. Jesus said that harboring this anger and hatred is as if you have murdered him (Matthew 5:21-22) and commanded his disciples to not resist the one who is evil (Matthew 5:38-42). This romanticization of violence against others is abominable and deplorable. Christianity is not a religion of violence against others. It is a religion of violence against violence against others.

  1. Trusting God means submitting to his authority.

Jesus prayed an impassioned plea that he might not drink from the cup that was coming to him. Yet, God did give Christ the cup, and Christ did drink it. Christ evidently, in his desire, did not want to take of the punishment of the cross. Yet, despite this, he humbly submitted himself to the will of the Father. Jesus regarded the Father’s authority as greater than his own desire to be free from the cup of death.

This is trusting God: placing your desires under the authority of the Lord. He is good, and his decrees are good. Your opinion of the best life for you will often be different from God’s declaration of what is actually your best life. There is only one way to live your best life now, and it is by submitting to the authority of the Father.

Gethsemane is the place where Christ sacrificed his will to the plan of the Father. In that plan, he reconciled his church to himself. He extended unmitigated grace to his beloved. He vindicated his name in righteousness. He promulgated his glory for the whole world to see. Yes, in Gethsemane, we see love in humility, and we see a model for the kind of self-sacrificing, dependent life to which Christ calls his followers.


Avery Thorn is from Belmont, MS. He is a junior at Blue Mountain College, where he is a Biblical Studies major and a History minor. He is a member of Belmont First Baptist Church. He has a passion for preaching and studying Scripture. Avery’s hobbies include exercising, music, politics, reading, writing, and making and enjoying coffee. You can follow Avery on Twitter @Avery_thorn.