A comment over at Sev’s digs caught my fearful blue eye this morning:
In some sense – and I’m sure there are theologians who wouldn’t mind arguing the point with me – there really is nothing in the universe, in all of reality, more fundamental than raw power. Even in a religious sense. God Himself is good, yes, but God is also omnipotent. If God were good, but not omnipotent (or at least not powerful enough to stop anyone who defies Him at His slightest will), then who would care about God?
Man is a fallen creature. He obeys God not because obeying God is the fundamentally correct thing to do (though many try, and that is frequently seen as the pinnacle of human virtue), but because if he doesn’t then he’s going to hell (or will be utterly destroyed, body and soul, depending on your theology). And that threat carries weight because God has the actual factual power to execute upon His commandments(sic), and deliver justice to evildoers.
I disagree with this premise in its totality.
As I said in my response to this comment, I strive to obey God because I love God, not because I am fearful of His power. That is why God granted men the gift of free will. He wants us to seek Him from our own desire, not from coercive force. Yes, God lays out His commandments, but you are free to act on them as you please. However, the penalties for not following His laws are also clear.
The attitude that power is everything is indicative of a mentality that is rooted in the material world, in the mind as opposed to the heart. By his comments, the interlocutor betrays how he would wield God’s power if he were accorded its benefits. This projection then extends to how all of humanity behaves, as if each and every one of us are solely motivated by power. There was someone else who thought this way a very long time ago, and God cast him out of heaven to act as the black to His white.
Christians, true Christians, do not seek to enter the Kingdom of Heaven for the goodies that are on offer. Such an attitude misses the point entirely. God does not seek those who will be swayed by gifts as their allegiance is fleeting to other and seemingly better trifles that might eventuate. A proper Christian seeks heaven so as to be close to God and to assist Him in His plan, in however small a way that he is able.
God is love. Our love for Him is unconditional. We do not barter with God. And it is not God’s power which reaches from age to age, but rather His mercy. The path to God is narrow for precisely the reason that so many people approach Him with the mind as opposed to the heart. We must get out of our heads and remove logic and legalism from the equation if we are to approach Him in any way.
The comment that I have quoted at the beginning of this piece is a valuable one, as it has caused me to contemplate why I disagree with it and to formulate my own position on the matter. For that reason, I thank the commenter for his contribution, and I sincerely hope that he comes to understand the error of his position.