If there is a God, what kind of God could that be? Whether we believe in God or not, we share a common idea of what being could earn the name ‘God.’ Anselm defined God as ‘that than which a greater can not be conceived.’ In other words, God must always be the greatest, most impressive thing in existence. We all have a god of sorts. Our god is the concept or thing large enough to capture our mind, direct our plans, and absorb our resources. Popular modern gods are romance, money, sex, career, prestige, and image. the way these gods rule us sometimes leaves us frustrated. We can’t get past these things in order to live for something bigger – they fill our vision. However, we are dissatisfied with our little gods and many of us ask, “Is there something more?”
The God of the Bible explodes all our limitations. The God of the Bible is allegedly infinite, all powerful, all loving, the definition of goodness, and has authority over all of creation. The Bible claims that all of creation points beyond itself toward this God. The mountains we see, the people we know, the oceans we sail, all point to a God who is beyond our grasp. The only correct response to the transcendent God is worship and glory.
If we have been saved by God, the correct response is a reverent fear of the one who saved us. Our minds and our actions need to be aligned with His will. This takes time. It takes humility to deconstruct the myth that we are gods. It takes effort to put aside all the other modern gods which suck our time and our pocket book dry. However, God grabs a hold of us and changes us. He changes us in ways that confirm His status as God, and He moves us from our short-sighted goals to His own good purposes. He has plans to flourish us and the world in which we live.
So, there is no room for complaint before such an almighty God. Our own schemes and agendas are trivial. There is no point arguing for our own plans, the reason we are alive is to execute God’s plans. In a world which increasingly marginalizes and ignores God, people who speak of God in public, and apply biblical thinking to every area of life, are going to stand out. Godlessness qualifies as neutrality in the twenty-first century. However, if we dare to stand for what we believe and replace our petty gods with God, I believe we will have reason to rejoice at what God will do.
Paul believed these things of his own generation. He believed Israel had failed to live out its calling in bringing the glory and worship of God to the nations. He believed that the humble example of Jesus provided a pattern for a new way to turn the world right side up. People consumed with God should bring light to the world.
In Philippians 2:12-18, Paul writes:
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.