We humans tend to think highly of ourselves. Due to communication capabilities and technological advances, we have been able to accomplish some mighty feats over the recent years and this has led to a general feeling of greatness among the members of the more privileged portions of the world. This Honda commercial validates my statements rather well.
However, if you watch the Honda commercial, you will notice that at the same time as declaring the greatness of what humans can do, they also admit the contamination of bad in the world. You will also notice that the examples of bad things in the world were things that were brought about because of humans. This reminds me of the incredibly insightful quote from Malcom Muggeridge:
“The depravity of man is at once the most empirically verifiable reality but at the same time the most intellectually resisted fact.”
While admitting that humans have created and continue to create havoc in this world, the commercial attempts to bypass this fact by trying to convince us that we are greater than our failures.
Now, I would not necessarily disagree that we are greater than our failures. What I would disagree with is the reason as to why we are greater than our failures. The commercial implies that the reason we are greater than our failures is because of our accomplishments (you know, things like selfies, video games, and full beards just to name a few). Our scientific achievements outweigh our many moral failures. Do you see the incongruity there? Our scientific achievements outweigh our moral failures.
One of the problems with this is that we need a moral solution to solve our moral failures. I am willing to bet that most humans will readily admit that building a hospital to atone for one’s marital infidelity is not satisfactory. (Imagine that conversation: “Honey, I know I cheated on you, but I went out and built a hospital. Now take me back.”) What could possibly be the answer for our moral failings? I really do not think subjugating people to moral penance is the right answer. I have written about what I believe the answer to moral failure is and you can read about that here.
Another problem is that many times our achievements do not ever wipe away the memory or guilt of our failures. We do not even need to talk about morality to prove this point. For example: Dan Marino was a fantastic quarterback who is still near the top of the record books in several different passing categories. Yet anytime his name is brought up when discussing quarterbacks, inevitably the fact that he never won a Super Bowl will loom large over the discussion.
However, moving on from those quick thoughts, I would like to address the greatness of humankind.
The Greatness of Humankind
Scripture confirms the greatness of humans. In Genesis 1 God calls all of creation, including humans, “very good.” If God calls something very good, you had better believe that it is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. What God calls okay, humans call mind-blowing. So if God calls something very good, it is freakin’ awesome.
God also affirms the greatness of humankind in Genesis 11, the chapter that details the Tower of Babel incident where God caused humans to disperse from each other by causing them to speak different languages. I will not go into all the details of the account now, but I would like to point out just one thing.
If you read the account, you will notice why God created different languages. God commanded men to spread out upon the earth but the inhabitants of earth decided to stick together and create a tower that would reach heaven. Since the people disobeyed God, God decided to create different languages to force the dispersion. Why? Because as God said, “Nothing they plan to do will be beyond them.”
Wait, did you just catch that? God just basically said that humans are capable of accomplishing whatever they put their mind to. Certainly God was using hyperbole when He said “nothing”, but the point is still well taken. God knew the immense capabilities of His wonderfully created creatures. God did not create us as pathetic beings. He created us to dominate all of creation. We were meant to be explorers and discoverers.
I believe that if humans had never sinned we would already have colonized some other planet in some other solar system. So will I be surprised if we ever find other habitable planets? Not at all. I believe God created the whole universe for our discovery, not just Earth.
One quick note. I do not believe that God was frightened or threatened by what we humans were doing at Babel. I believe that God had a plan for how He wanted humans to progress in their maturation, we humans were trying to kick against that plan, and God did not want us to reach a certain capability until certain lessons were learned first. For example: would you give your 5 year old a box of matches and say, “Run amok, my child!”? Of course not. You would not let your child handle matches until he/she reached a certain level of maturity. Well, that is basically what God was doing at Babel: making sure we learned certain lessons before He untied the binds.
So what were those lessons that God wanted mankind to learn? Well, they are many. But I will address only this one:
We are only at our greatest when we are in line with God’s plan
God created us to be great. However, we quickly ruined our original greatness by deviating from God’s plan. So many people ask, “Why didn’t God create a perfect world?” Well, He did. We just quickly ruined it.
If we were to follow God’s plan for our lives, we would be masters of our domain much more quickly. We would also be good masters, not just overlords.
So what is God’s plan? That in whatever we find ourselves doing, that we do it with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. That we live our lives in love with God and showing love to everybody around us. That we always enact justice and mercy towards others and humbly walk with God. (For those of you wanting to know where I get those ideas from, you can read them in Galatians 5:22-23, Matthew 22:36-39, and Micah 6:8.)
Now, that does not sound that bad does it? This really is all God wants for us. Everything else is up to us. If you want to build a rocket ship, go for it. Just do it following the precepts in the above paragraph. How about playing basketball? Same thing. God allows us to do anything our minds can think of as long as we follow the precepts above.
Now, there is a decent amount in those few precepts. For instance, can one claim that they do not need forgiveness for their sins and still walk humbly with God? Of course not. To claim that one does not need forgiveness for one’s sins is to claim that one does not need God, that they are a god to themselves, and that certainly is not an attitude of humility. So in order to fulfill the last precept in the the list above we have to recognize that we are limited in our greatness.
You may have noticed that the list of precepts that God requires us to do is something that everyone is capable of doing. Notice that God does not require us to be uber-intelligent or extremely creative or even popular – things that not everyone is capable of being. God simply requires us to do what we do with moral excellence.
But what about those times when we fail morally? We fail so often. How can we possibly be considered great when we often times fail within the first couple minutes of our morning?
A Helping Hand
That is the great thing about God. As even the Honda commercial admits, we have sins. We have brought a lot of bad into this world. But God still knows what He has created us to be. He has created us to be great. So instead of just letting us sit in our ash heap of our own ruin, He left His lofty place, waded into our mess, took all our sin and filth upon Himself through the person of Jesus Christ, and lifted us up to a restored position of greatness. Forgiveness and restoration is always available to us through Christ. So no matter how far you have fallen, God can lift us back up and even to higher heights.
You see, who can lift you higher than God?
That is right: no one.
That is why we are only at our greatest when we are in line with God’s plan. If we go our way, we may be able to get ourselves pretty high, but we will eventually fall because of our crumbling foundation. But with God we have a strong foundation upon which to build.
I was created to be great. You were created to be great. Do not settle for less by forgetting God.