I am the Lord; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other.
Whether people love God, hate him, or deny his very existence, they should be aware of this fact: God does not ignore attempts to usurp his place.
The number of people who choose to deny that God exists grows daily. Likewise, the number who so trivialize God’s role in their lives that he might as well not exist. God is out of fashion, and as that news spreads, so does the necessity of proving how utterly unnecessary he is. Those who reject him devise various strategies to demonstrate how unnecessary he is. In order to prove that people do not need God in oder to know right from wrong, they invented “feel good” morality.
Secularists are driven by the need to feel good. When asked how they know what is right, they respond that it makes them “feel good.” When they are trying to sell an idea, they tell people that it will make them “feel good.” They have had such success with this concept that the Supreme Court issued a decision which stated clearly that it made the court “feel good” to announce a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. Denying people the “right” to same-sex marriage made them feel bad, and the court wanted to make them “feel good” about themselves.
Why are secularists so driven by the need to appear to act morally? Secularists would have us believe that feeding hungry people and advocating for same-sex marriage are equally moral. They want us all to be willing to give up more than even God asks for (the tithe) in order to provide free food, clothing, shelter, medicine, and cars to everyone. They appear to believe that if people could simply have what they want withou t needing to pay for it (that is, if everyone lived in the Garden of Eden) everyone would be happy and “feel good.” Secular thinkers consider that forcing people to be “moral” against their will is a moral act. They advocate for extreme taxation by pretending that it is moral to take from richer people and give their earnings to poorer people. How can there be any difference between evil and good if God does not exist?
The answer is that God most certainly does exist. He created the universe. He created all living things. He created humans by breathing his own breath into them. He created in each person the recognition that there is a difference between good and evil. The fact that evils such as adultery and murder are considered evil in all cultures everywhere that secular thinking has not dominated is evidence that God creates people with his law written on their hearts. God gave them the sensitivity to want good to prevail. Yet he also gave every person the freedom to choose what made him “feel good” at the time. The problem that arises is guilt, which every person experiences when the thing that makes him “feel good” is something evil.
When Eve chose to eat the forbidden fruit, all the while knowing that the good God who had given her a garden full of fruit had inscrutably forbidden this one, Eve convinced herself that she had a right to decide on her own criteria for good and evil. She chose what secular thinkers choose. She chose what made her “feel good.”
She knew before she ever touched the fruit that she was doing wrong. Nevertheless, there was that delicious moment when she felt free, as if she had previously been in bondage because of being denied that fruit. Like the high from the first dose of an opiate, it was an exhilarating feeling, more exciting than anything she had ever experienced before.
But it did not last.
Then she began to wonder what would happen if God found out. That feeling was guilt. It is the unfailing companion of every bad choice. It is God’s sovereign signature of ownership of his creation, and it is a gift that people ignore at their peril. Guilt led her to hope that she would not be all alone when God brought up the subject. To counter her guilt, Eve decided to do a good thing. This choice is likely at work in the compulsive good works of secularism. Doing a good work produces a good feeling that takes the edge off the guilt of a prior bad act.
Eve chose to do a good work to combat the bad feeling of guilt over eating the forbidden fruit. Eve shared. She divided her treat with her lover. Adam was almost certainly shocked when he saw what was in her hand. It must have looked as appealing to him as it did to her, but that visual appeal was enhanced by an obvious fact: Eve was not dead. God had said that they would die if they ate that fruit. She was standing there looking as lovely as the first time he saw her, and she was describing the lush, juicy flavor like nothing else in the garden, and maybe she was even teasing him for being such a wimp. It had to be a shock to learn that she had actually eaten some, and he had to be intrigued when she told him how good it felt. Adam wanted to “feel good” just like Eve. Maybe God was being unfair, just as Eve’s friend implied. Adam bit. He tasted. He got the high.
It was not the fruity flavor, however, that gave them the high. It was the feeling that they did not need God anymore. That was the argument that persuaded Eve, and when Adam saw that she had eaten the forbidden fruit and lived to tell the story, he wanted to be a god, too. He wanted to decide for himself what was good. He did not need inscrutable rules. He loved that good feeling.
This was the day when secular thinking was born. Adam and Eve decided that they were completely capable of getting along without God. They became their own gods, and they chose what made them feel good.
God, of course, had too much respect for them to stand in their way. The freedom to choose was his gift, even if they had abused it. He did not take the gift away. Instead, He sent them on a quest to find themselves, and that is the ongoing quest of secular thinkers. God sent Adam and Eve out of the beautiful garden. They wanted to be free of God’s interference, and their wish came true.
They did not, however, escape God. They did not escape the truth of his existence and his sovereignty over his creation. That is what secular thinkers ignore. People can ignore the law of gravity, for example, but if they walk off the roof of a tall building, they will still fall to the ground. People may ignore God, too, but the time will come when he acts, maybe more than once.
Secular thinkers make fun of Christians. Like Adam, when Eve showed up with forbidden fruit in her hand, secular thinkers can see that people who ignore God are not struck dead on the spot. Everybody dies, but those who curse God usually do not immediately drop dead. Since God’s context is eternity and infinity, rather than time and space, it often appears that he is ignoring the disregard and lack of respect shown to him. It almost appears that he is blessing those who act as their own gods. Jesus himself said that God sends the rain on the just and the unjust.
What difference does it make if a person ignores God?
In Morocco, it is illegal to change from Islam to any other religion. A Muslim man met a Christian, became friends with the Christian, and eventually decided to follow Christ himself. Soon thereafter, he was arrested. He spent almost a year in prison for the crime of converting from Islam.
The man’s friends and family visited him regularly. They always reminded him that he could be released immediately if he would simply return to Islam. His answer was always the same.
“When I was Muslim, I never had any peace. I always worried that I would never please Allah. Jesus promised peace if I took him into my heart. I did that, and now I always have peace. I will never leave Jesus behind.”
The lack of peace, the nagging sense of guilt, the neediness for another “feel good” fix is God’s gentle reminder that nobody will get by with being his own god. God will never give his glory to another.