Standards for God
It was a Thursday morning on the children's playground of Commonplace Elementary School. Little Timmy met with his loyal, regular, support group behind the swing set.
"Yesterday was the worst day, yet." said Billy to the group. "My mom made brussel sprouts. She wouldn't let me leave the table until I ate everything on my plate."
"You think you have problems?", chimmed Suzie. "Tomorrow, my dad's taking me to the doctor. The last time that happened, I got a sharp needle shoved into my arm! It was THIS big!"
The small group continued to share their tales of torment until Timmy finallly had the will and courage to say it. "We have to face the facts, and stop fooling ourselves." said the little boy. "Adults and parents are evil. Unless I get twelve Snickers bars, every day, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I won't pretend otherwise."
This little story may sound comical to any adult. However, it's not that different from the way that some people tend to view God.
Several weeks ago, I was browsing the comments section on a social media page. A woman had posted a statement which read "Prove that there is a heaven". Upon reading the statement, I couldn't help but give my honest response. The woman responded by posting a link to a YouTube video. The video featured an interview with Bart Ehrman, a former Christian who became an agnostic. He's also a professor.
Prior to watching that video, I had never heard of Bart Ehrman. His view is similar to that of the children on the playground. In a nutshell, he stopped being a Chrstian, due to the fact that God doesn't operate in a way that makes sense to him. Because there is pain and suffering in the world, and because the Bible contains portions of scripture that he can't reconcile, he's chosen to believe that either God is evil, or that he doesn't exist.
As a Christian, it's hard for me to listen to such arguments. My perspective is so different that I couldn't help but be bothered by his views. Ultimately, I've decided to write about it -- Hence, this article.
Bart Ehrman isn't the first person to question God's motives, competency or existence. I'm sure that if you talk to any agnostic or atheist, you'll hear similar claims. Ultimately, their views are very similar to that of little Timmy's, in my illustrative story. They make the mistake of viewing the mind of God as that of a human being. They declare that, because God doesn't operate the way that a human would, there must be something wrong with God, or he simply must not exist. It's a deeply flawed belief that is often viewed, by many, as wise, confident, and honest. However, if anyone is willing to take a biblical perspective, the flaws, in such a view, quickly become apparent.
The Bible makes it clear that, in many ways, God isn't like us. It's true that he made us in his image, but unlike God, we all have many limitations. Each of us will only live, on this earth, for a limited period of time. We can only go so long without eating, sleeping, or having to use the bathroom. Each of us can only run so fast, lift so much, or hold our breath for so long. And, yes, there are limits to our comprehension and ability to understand certain things. Other times, we have the ability to understand, but God has chosen to limit what he will allow us to know.
In light of this, each of us has a choice. We can choose to trust God, or we can choose not to. We can trust that he is wiser than we are, and that his understanding is infinitely more vast than ours, or we can choose to believe that sometimes he doesn't know what he's doing. When things don't make sense to us, we can choose to reject God, and come to the conclusion that he's incompetent, evil, that he isn't in control, or that he doesn't exist. Or we can choose to recognize that we simply don't know everything.
While responding to Ehrman, one woman made an interesting comment. She questioned whether or not he was throwing out the baby with the bath water. After all, we have more than sufficient evidence that Jesus lived on this earth and that he did great things. If he hadn't, the world wouldn't have responded to him the way that it did. So, ultimately, it boils down to a matter of trust. A person can either choose to trust and believe Jesus, or they can choose not to.
Here is one portion of scripture, which I find to be revealing:
When the king of Egypt let the people go, God did not take them by the road that goes up the coast to Philistia, although it was the shortest way. God thought, "I do not want the people to change their minds and return to Egypt when they see that they are going to have to fight." Instead, he led them in a roundabout way through the desert toward the Red Sea. The Israelites were armed for battle.