I've been thinking a lot lately about the value people put on appearances. More to my point, I've been thinking a lot about the things people are willing to do to get what they want. Identity is important. Status...not so much. It's especially upsetting to me when it comes to believers. We're all sinners and every one of us has a sinful heart that wants to be selfish. But it seems that there are some who are more intentional about their disobedience. When it's not just a bad habit, but a strategy.
Human beings have always used little tricks and gimmicks to get what they want. How about intimidation? Temper and abuse are effective tools for sending others scurrying out of one's way. On the other side of the spectrum is charm. It may be bogus, duplicitous, conditional, and totally insincere, but it achieves a dual payoff: getting one's way and stroking one's ego. The manipulations are probably endless. Whining, bribing, guilt-tripping, snubbing, flattering, and belittling. We humans have found ways of avoiding discomfort and accountability.
Like I said, there are payoffs to these acts of selfishness and dishonesty. But there is a huge downside. While it feels good in the moment, ill-gotten victories are cheap and temporary. But much, much graver, these tricks do not work on God.
A prominent atheist was once asked what he would do if he found himself face-to-face with the Creator he so vehemently denied. He said that he would ask Him, "Why did you take such pains to hide yourself?"
I promise you that when he passed away in 1970, he met God and yet did not ask that question. All of our favorite little weapons that have been so effective in manipulating our brothers and sisters? We won't even think of trying them on God. Though I honestly believe that there are people who have this plan.
God will not be intimidated by your anger. He will not cower at your temper. He will not wink at your sin because you're just so gosh-darn cute. He will not rush to soothe your whining or be abashed at your scolding. You will not out-think, out-talk, interrupt, or confuse Him. Neither will I. We won't even consider it when we stand before Him and His indescribable holiness and glory. Remember when Moses questioned God? Job? To put it mildly, they did not come out the victors of those conversations. Frankly, I think I would faint with terror if God said to me "Brace yourself like a man;I will question you, and you shall answer me."
Remember that part near the middle of "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" when the four children are making plans with The Beavers? Edmond, having already been deceived and poisoned by the White Witch, asked a question.
"She won't turn him into stone, too?" said Edmond.
"Lord love you, Son of Adam, what a simple thing to say!" answered Mr. Beaver with a great laugh. "Turn him into stone? If she can stand on her own two feet and look him in the face it'll be the most she can do and more than I expect of her."
Yes, Jadis had power. She was a witch who made it winter for over 100 years. "Always winter and never Christmas". She turned the beloved Mr. Tumnus, and many others, to stone. She had gained fear, respect, and in some cases even devotion from the Narnians. These temporary victories caused her to greatly overestimate her power. The White Witch (though she knew she was no match for Aslan, that Aslan had no match) still dared to challenge him. She lost.
We, too, will lose if we dare to think that our ludicrous, petty, human weapons will silence God. We may feel we are a powerful, victorious Queen Jadis, turning people to stone if they get in our way, but don't be deceived. Standing on our own two feet and looking Him in the face is the most we will do and more than I expect of us.