Does God wear glasses? Is he forgetful? Arbitrary? Does he need people’s help to do something he can’t do himself? Is he tricky with the truth? According to certain Hollywood screenwriters, he has all these idiosyncrasies and worse.
The real God is perfect—without flaw or fault, complete and whole, lacking nothing. His will is perfect, His work is perfect, His way is perfect, His law is perfect, He is perfect in knowledge. It seems to me that perfection would be the primary characteristic we would desire in a Supreme Being. But apparently not. Men are offended by God’s perfection. It’s too gigantic and uncontrollable, and makes us look bad.
We humans desire a manageable god. We want one we can tuck reverently into a little box and take out when we’re feeling grateful for a splendid sunset. We want a god we can understand completely, and we want veto privileges over decisions he makes that we don’t like, and standards he sets that we deem too high, or exclusive, or intolerant, or merely inconvenient.
People make movies starring “God,” and look who they cast: George Burns, Morgan Freeman. Comfortable, respectable men, but funny and not too concerned with holiness. In fact, our movie gods have foibles of their own. They smoke stogies or get tired of answering prayers and want a vacation. I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface here, because I did a search about God in the movies and was dumbfounded by the results. The paragraph listing actors who have played God filled my computer screen. I picked out a few names I recognized: Bill Cosby, Tim Curry, Tony Curtis, Rodney Dangerfield, James Garner, Groucho Marx, and Roger Moore to name a very few. This doesn’t seem like a list of men chosen exclusively for their unimpeachable characters and inspiring, god-like nobility. The list of shows starring “God” was several pages long, and included TV episodes, cartoons, and zombie movies. Hollywood and its equivalents in other places are apparently obsessed with God, as are we all.
But we have no interest in a perfect God. Only gods made in our own image need audition for a role on the silver screen. A perfect God leaves no slack for “good enough.” Perfection is demanding, revealing, powerful and pure. We can’t look at it—it would blind us. God is light and in Him is no darkness at all, John tells us. He dwells in unapproachable light, Paul writes to Timothy. We don’t want such bright light shining on us, exposing every cherished sin and cultivated wickedness. We’d rather compare ourselves to the other guy, because if we’re careful about choosing that other guy, and if the lighting is dim, we can usually come out looking pretty good. Pretty good, but not perfect. Nobody’s perfect, right?
This attitude works okay most of the time, though it’s a recipe for a mediocre life at best. The only problem is, it completely fails when your life is falling in flaming fragments around you and you’ve nowhere else to turn—and we will all be in that place sooner or later. When you’re there you need a pure, powerful, perfect God who can pull you out of the miry mess you find yourself in. You need God Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, who can and will love and forgive you, deliver you, heal you, protect you, teach you and show you how to live and how to die. He can raise you from the dead and give you life unending. He can wash you clean from your filth, clothe you in His perfection and make you able to live in His presence and look upon His face. This is reconciliation with the real God, and it is His deep desire to be reconciled to every one of us.
Why wait for the flaming fragments? You can find this reconciliation today by turning to Jesus. Decide to trust that His death and resurrection are the perfect gift of redemption He wants to give to you, the one screaming and scrabbling there in the outer darkness. Call out to Him and He will find you, pick you up in His perfect arms, carry you into the Light, and banish the darkness forever. No god in a box can do that.