Thursday, September 15, 2011

What is God?


I heard a really interesting piece of trivia the other day. Did you know that the total weight of all the ants in the world equals the total weight of all the human beings in the world? And of course they outnumber us ... by a factor of a million to one. (Source.)

I always figured there were a heck of a lot more ants in the world than people ... but pondering the fact that there are at least 6 quadrillion (1 million x 6 billion) of these creatures on the planet, gives one cause for pause. When I first read that, sitting in my chair in my office at work, I found it hard not to visualize (with a shudder) a human-being-shaped object comprised of a mass of a million ants, legs and jaws interlocked, sitting in my chair in the exact shape of me. Then I thought of the approximately 1,000 workers who share the office in Federal Way with me. All those chairs. All those ants. Eeewwww!

Thank God most of those ants are (hopefully) outside, somewhere out in the woods, and not here in this building. Or at least not in my kitchen at home.

Something else I learned (here): Ants have the largest brains in the insect kingdom. This mass of one million ants has 25 times the total number of brain cells that you do. Something to think about.

So, what does all this have to do with God?

The other night I rented a documentary (made in 2007 ... yes, I'm somewhat behind in my reviewing schedule) called "Oh My God." The documentary maker went all around the world, seeking people who had an opinion on the question "What is God?" and giving them an open mike. The result was fairly predictable. There were lots of arrogant, uninformed, and truly crazy statements about God ... interspersed with lots of politically correct "God is in and between everything" kind of nonsense statements. It was like a colony of ants trying to answer the question "What is a human being?" with each ant giving its own opinion based on its own particularly slanted thinking or observations about the world. Only in this case, the result was even worse ... basically, just a lot of noise.

One interviewee said cynically, "The moment someone tries to tell you who God is, you should be very suspicious of that person." The implication was (and no doubt this is true in many cases) that people who think they can tell you all about God are only after money and power. They are like corporations, inherently evil. And of course the filmmaker drove this point home by including clips of some big-haired evangelists at their worst.

So, after an hour or two of this, I shut it off and started thinking, okay, what didn't they say?

And one thing they clearly didn't say was anything whatsoever that would have led one to consider the possibility that God might be a Person ... a Person who desires to reveal Himself to those He created.

For, if there is a God, doesn't that make sense? If (by definition) God created all there is for some purpose of His own, including us as the lone sentient intelligence (that we are aware of, at least) ... wouldn't it make sense that He would attempt to reveal Himself to us?

And, assuming that He was wholly other than us (different than, outside of what He has created), how exactly would He do that?

I believe that if you think along these lines, the message of the Bible begins to make much more sense. Think about the ants, for instance. Let's say you in your omnipotence created all these tiny little creatures for some overarching purpose that only you understood. The groundrules: You are by nature good, your love is effusive and perfect, and you therefore want the very best for what you created. You want them to fulfill that purpose, but because you created them like yourself, with free will to choose to do that or not, there is a real risk that they would choose to reject you, hence squandering their existence and sealing their misery. How would you communicate to them what you needed them to understand?

The Bible is unique among all the religious works of the world in that it is a large collection of books (66 in total), written by dozens of authors, over a period spanning thousands of years. It alone purports to be "the word of God," a message from this creator God to those whom He has created. If you study it carefully, for years, as I have, you cannot do anything but conclude that the fundamental message of those 66 books is marvelously unified and cohesive.

That central message is that in order to most effectively and accurate communicate to us ants what/who He is, God Himself became an ant and came to live among us. Jesus, the Bible says, "is the image of the invisible God." Christ says to His disciples, "If you've seen Me, you've seen the Father."

If the makers of "Oh My God" had interviewed any Christians in the making of their documentary, they probably would have received this very politically-incorrect answer to their question "What is God?":

"Look at Jesus. That's what God is."

But no, I guess that sort of comment doesn't pass the filmmaker's filter, for whatever reason. It clearly doesn't fit into their very obvious agenda that anything that smacks of "established religion" should be so thoroughly repudiated as evil. (Unless, of course, it's a religious system as sexy as Buddhism.)

So, let's say here I am, the creator of all those ants who are scurrying around and saying, "What is God?" and giving their opinions about what I am, and those opinions are by and large uninformed and absurd and reflecting their own agendas. They have ignored the messages I have sent in their own language saying, "This is what and Who I am." So then I've turned my own Son into an ant and sent him down to crawl amongst them. He is obviously no ordinary ant, living as he does in such a way to help the other ants understand as best they can what I am like. (Even now, thousands of years later, he is the most talked-about ant in ant history!)

I send him, knowing full well that in their fear and their ignorance and their sinfulness, those ants will ultimately tear my son to pieces.

And also knowing that this tragedy is the only way ... the ONLY way ... the truth will ever be known and any of them will ever believe that the only One who can tell us about God truly is God Himself. Turning to my son is the ONLY way any of those ants will ever achieve the destiny that I created them for.

Folks, THAT's love. I can't fathom it, because, frankly, I don't love (or even like) ants. (So maybe I should choose a different analogy? Aack, too late.)

I don't really understand why God loves us as He does. I don't understand why God loves ME as He does. But the Bible says it's undeniably true. God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son. You either believe John 3:16 ... or you don't. And if you don't believe that, you have a whole smorgasbord of ridiculous and uninformed notions about God from which to choose.

Pick your poison, but before you do, please consider the possibility that wisdom cries out for you to listen to God's explanation of Himself, before you give ear to the blather of self-important documentaries such as "Oh My God."

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