The great songster and humorist (and Missouri Synod Lutheran) Lyle Lovett has a song entitled “God Will” (lyrics at the link). Who will love you despite your cheating ways? Who will forgive you for all the wrong you’ve done? “God does./ But I don’t. /God will. /But I won’t./ And that’s the difference between God and me.”
There are, of course, lots of other differences! But my various advent devotions, readings, hymns, and sermons have been impressing on me the personality of God, if I dare use that word, and how as a person he is so different from me. Obviously, He is righteous and I am not, but I am getting glimpses of what that righteousness looks like and how attractive it is, as opposed to how repellent are so many of my own tendencies.
Pastor James Douthwaite sums this up brilliantly in a devotion on Psalm 9: Man wants to be God/ God wanted to be Man.
A Different Kind of God
Psalm 9 begins:
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
And these are the concluding words:
Let the nations know that they are but men!
Here’s something for you to think about today:
Men (people) want to become god;
God wanted to become man.
Now, what does that mean: men want to become god? Well, it means we want to be in control, in charge. We want to get what we desire. We want our wishes carried out. We want others to praise and exalt us. We want to be on the top, not the bottom.
Yet at the end of the psalm it is written: Let the nations know that they are but men!
Men may want to become god, but we aren’t. We are but men. We may think we’re in control of our lives, but we’re not; God really is. We may want what we desire, but God gives us what He knows we need and what is good instead. We may want others to praise and exalt us, but it doesn’t last. One wrong word, one mistake, and it’s all gone. We want to be on the top, but how often do we find ourselves looking up at others?
We are but men.
But this Advent season, leading up to Christmas, we remember this astounding fact: that God became man.
When God became man for men who [sinfully] want to become god. He came to serve us. He came to take care of us. He came to lay down His life for us. He came from the top and went to the bottom – all the way down to the grave.
How different from us is God! How different in His thinking, His desires, and His actions. For all this He does not for Himself – God doesn’t need anything and He certainly doesn’t need us! Yet He did all this for us, that we – sinners all – might be called children of God. We’re not God, but we can be children of God. Born from above, born of water and the spirit. With a loving Father who protects us, provides for us, disciplines us, and saves us.
He really does.
Don’t complain that he didn’t save you from the mess you just made of your life. If you do what He told you not to do or go where He told you not to go, there are consequences for our sin. But with Him there is also forgiveness.
And don’t complain that because you don’t have all that you want that God doesn’t love you. He actually loves you enough not to make you into a spoiled brat.
And don’t complain that others have more than you. Parents don’t treat their children all the same. Children are all different and should be treated differently. To treat all your children the same would not be love, but indifference or lack of thought or care.
So instead of complaining, do this instead: if you really want to see the love of God for you, don’t look at your life – look at the manger, look at the cross, look at what God was willing to do for you – His wonderful deeds; His wonder-filled deeds; His deeds filled with wonder – that you might be His. To defeat not just your earthly enemies, but your eternal enemy. To give you not just earthly riches, but heavenly ones. To give you not just a life here that will one day end, but a life that will never end.
To give you what’s better.
So we can go on trying to be god, but why?
Rather, as the psalmist says, let us praise the Lord. And not just any god who goes by that name, but the God who did this wonderful deed; this God: the God who became man, that we men might become children of God.
That’s a real God. A God you can count on.
Dear Jesus, thank You that though you are God yet in love for us you became man, and not only became man, but laid down your life for us to atone for our sins – especially our sin of wanting to be god. Help me to trust in you and your ways, praise not what I do but what you have done for me, and rejoice that in you, I am not god, but am something even better – I am a child of God. Amen.
Painting, “Jesus Before His Crucifixion,” by Henry Thomas Bosdet (1897), [Public Domain] via Wikipedia