A response to “Which is Stronger, Manfluence or Godfluence?”

A recent pair of articles I ran across on another blogger’s site—Parallel Divergence—set me thinking about the question of God. Is there a God, or did man just make him up? Which God is the real one? Here are some thoughts I’ve gathered over the years.

To even ask the question about whether there is a God or not means that there is something or someONE beyond mankind and his tiny frame of existence. We can’t help but look at the stars and think that there must be more to life than the humdrum nature of things; the Hubble Telescope image serves to broaden, though not entirely delineate, the vastness of it all. And how many poems have been written on the subject of life’s fleeting nature and the desire to live forever? Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18, to quote just one of the many: (lines 11-14)

“Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”

To long for something outside ourselves and better than ourselves, to long for eternity, means that we humans, be we men or women, are not the end-all and be-all of everything. To live as though we are produces (and has produced since the beginning of time) nothing but misery and confusion. [Like another blogger said, “Manfluence” is responsible for the world’s heartache.] Then, when we are in the middle of the trouble and turmoil that humans have created, we shake our fists at “Heaven” and wonder how a good and loving God could allow something so horrible. Yet the very notion that God might have the right to interfere in our lives disturbs us. So basically, if there is a God, we want Him to interfere in everyone else’s lives, just not ours. And we only want Him to do the jobs that are too big for us to do on our own—like stop earthquakes and prevent attacks from rabid, man-eating lions. Maybe we need superheroes. But read any comic book today or look at the stories of the Greek gods and goddesses, and you see that superheroes have the same problems we do, just on a grander scale: they’re too human to help us with the things that really tear our world apart—“manfluence.” The gods and goddesses of Greek and Roman myth acted like overgrown humans, leaving mere mortals to suffer from their poor decisions.

It’s really our own human nature, our own selfishness, that tears our world apart, whether on a small scale—like the words we say to hurt those nearest and dearest to us—or on a grand scale—like the destruction wreaked by Hitler on the Jewish people. Therefore the “just-follow-your-heart” philosophy that sounds so good on the Disney channel does not work in real life. Many times, following our hearts leads to pain in our lives or in the lives of others. Believing in myself brings no hope at all; there has to be something bigger than me and better than me that makes sense of life and saves me from myself.

This hope is what makes the Bible so unique. It is different from all other sacred writings in four ways:

~ First, it was written by God through human mouthpieces: no one man can take credit for the things that its pages contain and no one man (besides Jesus, the God-man—God Himself Who became human, too, to show us what God is like up-close-and-personal) can take credit for it. The events it contains and the prophecies that were fulfilled over the thousands of years between its first book and its last book could not have been orchestrated by just one person, unless that person was powerful enough to control time and space without violating any man’s free will.

~ Second, the stories it tells do not paint people in the light that humans usually paint themselves: it tells of human failings and shortcomings—even the great heroes whose lives it chronicles did wrong things that hurt those around them and had far-reaching results. Humans tend to gloss over those things when they write. Only Jesus Christ is different because He is God and is not subject to human sins; He lived for 33 years on earth and never sinned. Even those who say He is not God cannot point a finger at Him for wrongdoing—even Islam looks to Him as a good man and a great prophet (though not as great as Mohammed).

~ Third, only the Bible offers a solution for humanity’s problems that is outside of man himself. All other religions either offer lists of rules to curb humanity’s baser passions or try to justify those baser passions by saying that they are acceptable no matter who they hurt. Neither way actually deals with the problem of “manfluence.” Only the Bible offers a solution that really works. Man-made religions exploit man for the use of other men; only God in the person of Jesus Christ gives unconditionally and totally.

~ Finally, the Bible is the only book that tells mankind how to have fellowship with the God that is big enough to create a universe that will stimulate our minds and make us wonder about things outside ourselves (We would not be content with a tiny universe any more than we are content with our tiny lives). Thousands of people have experienced the life-giving power that God offers through the gift of Himself. God does not just give us a list of rules to make us fit for Heaven; instead, He shows us how all of our attempts to be good enough fall short of our goal of reaching Him, and then He makes a way for us to reach Him by giving of Himself. He makes it easy enough for anyone, be they small or great, to contact Him and know Him. And He does the work for us that we cannot do—He makes us whole inside and makes our hearts new.

This is the message of the Bible; this is a hope that is not about man-made religion; this is bigger and more mind-boggling than the images from the Hubble Telescope, awesome though those images are. We will understand the mysteries of the universe much sooner than we will grasp the love of God. Just as the universe is bigger than the earth, God Himself is bigger than mankind’s imagination. In fact, He said as much: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9 We can’t be content with a God we can completely understand any more than we can be content with a universe painted on the ceiling. We don’t need a man-made God; we were made for more than that.