Pride – A Seductive Temptation
When my son David was three years old, he asked me a profound theological question. It was bedtime. For some reason most of life’s deeper questions are asked by children just before tucking in for the night. Sometimes just to stall the inevitable. But often, I’m sure, because their little heads are brimming with questions. And mom and dad know the answers. Usually.
But in this case, I could see from the expression on David’s face that he had a tough one to spring on me. Straight faced with wide-eyed childhood innocence, he inquired, “Daddy, when I grow up, can I be God?” I broke the news to him gently that, although growing up in America offered many career opportunities, deity was not among them.
Sadly, though, the aspiration to be our own God is a seductive allurement. I’m convinced that most of those who either espouse atheism or claim that they are their own deity – in both cases denying the God of the Bible – do so for one primary reason. If there is no God or if I myself am my own god then I’m only accountable to myself. It’s a convenient place to be for many. If the God of the Bible isn’t legit then I get to call my own shots. I get to decide what is right or wrong. I get to determine “my own truth.”
I’m not suggesting people can’t have doubts and questions about God. But too often even those on an honest quest for truth can fall prey to the lying temptation to default to “there is no God” or “I am God.” Both are forms of pride that will, eventually, lead to tragedy.
Herod Agrippa found that out the hard way. About a year ago my wife and I were in Israel with Okongo, Shyla, and a few other friends. We stood at the very spot where it happened – a four-thousand seat outdoor theater in Caesarea on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, according to the Jewish historian Josephus. Herod Agrippa’s grandfather, Herod the Great, was the king who tried to kill Jesus as a small child after learning from the Wise Men that the Messiah had been born. And it was he who had the theater built where his grandson Agrippa learned a bitter lesson about usurping God’s sovereignty. The Book of Acts Chapter 12 recounts what happened:
“Now Herod was in a furious dispute with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they convened before him. Having secured the support of Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their region depended on the king’s country for food. On the appointed day, Herod donned his royal robes, sat on his throne, and addressed the people. And they began to shout, ‘This is the voice of a god, not a man!’
Immediately, because Herod did not give glory to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.
But the Word of God continued to spread and multiply.”
Notice that the people of Tyre and Sidon, in an attempt to win his favor, fed his pride big time, calling him a god. And Herod Agrippa ate every delicious morsel of their insincere flattery. At that point, God chose to give mankind down through the ages an ageless, poignant lesson about pride and usurping His authority. When we allow our pride to get in the way of our relationship with Him it won’t end well unless we repent and turn back to the One who offers grace and forgiveness.
But notice also that last sentence in the passage from Acts. “But the word of God continued to spread and multiply.” It’s interesting that Luke, the writer of Acts, chose to insert that comment. I suspect it was to assure us that, no matter which, often prideful, earthly powers are in charge, whatever international conflicts are raging, or whether political climates are favorable to the cause of Christ or not, the Word of God – the only God – will continue to spread and multiply.
Our job is to spread the good seed of His Word, then trust Him to bring the increase of transformed lives. Thank you, as a supporter of Unite 4 Africa, for laboring with us in the fields that are “white unto harvest.”
Unite 4 Africa Board Member