Consider the Serpent’s second statement to Eve, how he discounted the promise of death and offered an alternative that obviously captured her heart in some way, “your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
The devastating effects of humanity’s perpetual pursuit of godlikeness is obvious all around us. But I’ve been pondering how easily Christians also fall for this temptation, and yet somehow we do it in a sort of “sanctified” or “Christian” way.
Be like God, knowing – Humanity has a hunger to be “in the know.” Knowledge is compellingly attractive, especially when others don’t have it. Is there not some of this “insider knowledge” permeating the gossip addiction in many churches? And what about the tendency many have to hold untested and uninformed positions as strong convictions, essentially finding personal security in their black and white positions on issues rather than having the courage and faith to grapple in the grey zones of complexity?
Be like God, controlling – Humanity inherently hates the notion of a God on the throne. This is obvious in the moral rebellion of society, but oh so subtle in church world. We also deeply dislike being out of control. Whether it is sickness, or bread-winning, or personal freedom, or church decisions (don’t say “change!”), or whatever, don’t we have a tendency to seek control? And then as a token effort we include God by prayer in the world we seek to control.
Be like God, ruling – Humanity hankers after God’s position. Pyramid climbing is the norm in the business world, in academia, in social gatherings, everywhere. Perhaps you have experienced conversations where the other person is vying for position, seeking to establish their superiority through various tactics? Jesus has demonstrated the self-emptying and humbling nature of our God and we are called to have the same attitude. Yet, like the Philippians, we tend to jostle and exhibit “christian” rivalry. We sanctify pyramid climbing as long as it is for “godly influence” or “ministry.”
Be like God, alone? The world’s way of pursuing the “be like God” dream always includes some aspect of getting rid of God. It’s almost as if they know that there isn’t room for two “gods” and so must competitively dismiss all others in order to take their own position. The irony runs very deep. We hear that God is jealous of His unique position and glory. Yet God exists in a communion of loving glory-giving. He doesn’t pursue the subjugation of every person for the sake of His own sense of security. Rather, He gives His very best in order to win the hearts of a bride for His Son. He doesn’t exercise authority or dominion rashly, He humbly pursues those who hate Him that they might be captured by His love.
But what about the throne? He will, after all, not share his glory with any other god, right? Right. But the Bible also gives the stunning expectation that those in Christ will get to rule, to sit with Christ on His throne. We will never be “gods,” for there is only one God. Yet He has reached down, humbling Himself, that we might be lifted up to reign with Him, to know Him, to love Him.
If only we could shake some of our twisted understanding of what the ultimate being must be like. If only we would read His Word and be gripped by who He really is and what He has actually done. Then perhaps we wouldn’t need to “christianize” and “sanctify” a worldly pursuit of power, status, influence, knowledge, and god-hood in our pathetic mini-kingdoms. Instead we could rejoice in the reality that far surpasses all our dreams, yet inherently opposes all our fleshly pursuits. The difference? We are called to humbly trust, rather than haughtily grab. Keep your gaze on Him, even in Church world!