Of course, stating that I am not God shocks no one. Yet I see an increase of teaching—yes, even among Christians—that seems to promote individuals behaving as if we are God.
Let me explain.
There is this positive-think movement that talks about each of us being in control of our destiny. For instance, we need to think positively about our finances, and good things will happen. We need to have hope about our health, and disease will disappear. We need to believe in our abilities as writers, and contracts will come our way.
You get the idea.
The fact is, some of this is true. Health professionals have done studies about the power of the mind in the process of healing. Some brain studies have shown that “phantom” pain is a real brain message being sent to the body though there is no physical cause. Sociologists have shown that infants are drawn to people who smile and people who are attractive.
Like most false teaching, however, the facts can morph into error when they are misinterpreted. Many people look at the amazing things our brains can do and draw the erroneous conclusion that we are therefore capable of unlimited success, health, happiness. It’s all in our control.
Isn’t that just another way of saying, I am God?
Instead, any real understanding of facts about human abilities should lead us to gape in awe at our omnipotent God, not crow about our unlimited potential.
The most disturbing thing for me, however, is to see this “I can do all things because I’m empowered to do so” attitude creep into the church.
Sure, it’s couched in religious language, but at the heart is a belief that we are in charge. Not so.
Prayer changes things because God answers, not because I’ve put my mind to good health or happiness or hope. I don’t will myself into a better place because I’ve visualized it.
In fact, God seems to love coming through when all seems darkest, victory seems out of reach, despair seems the only option.
Think of Gideon and his small band of fighters up against insurmountable odds. Or how about the classic illustration—teenage shepherd David facing a giant. What about widowed Ruth, in a foreign land, scavenging for food to make a living for her and her mother-in-law.
More specifically, look at Abraham. What must he have thought when he took up the knife to slay his son? Was it happy thoughts? A belief in his own ability to make this situation right?
No. He went no further than trusting in God’s promise and obeying His word. God said Isaac was to be the beginning of a great nation. And God said Abraham was to offer Isaac to Him.
No amount of self talk could resolve these two contrasting facts. Abraham had to believe that God meant what He said, both times. He had to accept that God would do what to him seemed impossible.
He had to accept that God was God, and he was not.
This post is a revised and edited version of one that first appeared here in May 2010.