According to psychologist Robin Rosenberg (Smithsonian.com), Americans love superheroes because the characters are relatable and their stories inspire. Heroes are often regular men and women who undergo some “life-altering experience” and discover their hidden power.
Unfortunately, the idea of an ordinary person with extraordinary power colors our understanding of God. We know the Bible says that God created man in his image (Genesis 3), but we imagine God in our image—a super-human, in a sense.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
God is not just a better version of us. He is altogether different in at least three important ways.
His Will Is Perfect
Years ago, struggling with a big decision, I prayed that God would show me his will. But as the days and weeks wore on, I realized I wasn’t really asking God for his will; I was asking God to show me what decision was going to make me happiest. In other words, I wasn’t seeking what God wanted in the situation; I was trying to learn what I wanted.
My natural human will is weak and unreliable. Tainted by sin, my will is myopic and self-serving.
But God’s will is perfect and holy:
“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:40)
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:8-9)
Where my will is short-sighted, his is eternal. Mine is focused on my good; his is for his glory and the good of others. My will is weak and unreliable, but his is strong and effective to raise Christ from the dead and save sinners from eternal destruction.
His Way Is Limitless
God does not face human boundaries.
I know many Christians who struggle with the Genesis creation account because it doesn’t fit our understanding of time. If modern scientific methods suggest that a fossil is billions of years old, then many believe it must have existed for billions of years. Unfortunately, that logic assumes God is subject to the same physical limitations as the rest of nature:
- A human body requires 25 years to grow from baby to adult, and yet God created a fully-grown man out of dust.
- A fruit tree might take 12 months to 15 years to produce fruit, and yet God created fruit-bearing trees in the garden in a day.
By his word alone, God spoke the universe into existence, raised the dead, and stilled storms. My limited human brain can’t comprehend our limitless God, and yet my lack of understanding does not stop him.
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Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
Salvation, just like creation, is impossible using natural methods and human power. But God’s power is eternal, and only he can do the impossible. When we assume he can only do what we can understand, then we miss his “eternal power and divine nature” (Romans 1:20) that is at work to save us from our sins.
His Love Is Sacrificial
In his book Love: A Beginner’s Guide, Pastor Colin Smith describes the love in 1 Corinthians 13 like this:
The love that is described here is so radically different from the prevailing attitudes and values of our world today, it will take a lifetime to learn it—though if we are Christians, we will then have eternity to put it into practice. (p. 3)
Human love is temporary, self-serving, and conditional. God’s love is long-suffering, sacrificial, and unconditional:
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
My natural tendency is to lose patience and give up on someone who won’t return my friendship or affection. But the Lord “is patient toward you” (2 Peter 3:9), and his kindness extends forever. The human way would be to lay down your life for a worthy cause or person, yet Christ “died for the ungodly.” His love is greater than a natural human love because he is not human. He is God.
Why God’s Greatness Matters
To miss the greatness of our God is to miss the greatness of the gospel.
Throughout history, mankind has devised “gods” that are versions of what we know—man, animals, etc.—but are powerless to save. We have legends, heroes, superstars. We glorify human skill, intelligence, and talent and think that God must be a supersized version of what we can see and understand. But no one else has the will, way, or love to save us from the penalty, power, and ultimately (one day) from the very presence of sin.
God’s greatness matters because only he can accomplish the impossible. In Christ, he is “able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him” (Hebrews 7:25). And he not only saves us from the penalty of sin, he is able to change our will to be more like his (Philippians 2:13). He brings “the immeasurable greatness of his power” into our lives (Ephesians 1:19), and because of his love, we are able to love one another (1 John 4:7-12).
He is not a god created in our image. We are his people, created in his image, and because of his will, way, and love, we can experience eternal life.