Human Achievement. Forgotten God.

(For those who have already read my blog post this week: This is similar but reworked for our local newspaper, so it is basically a shrunken shrunk sermon!)

We have travelled a great distance, so far, in fact, that for some God remains only as a distant memory. We have achieved so much. And we have forgotten God. We celebrate a wealth of innovation. Just look at the advances in medicine, technology, communications, transportation and the like. Just look at the human innovation that surrounds us. Fast cars, warm homes, incredible and incredibly connected computers, high flying aircraft, far ranging spacecraft, is anything impossible for us? Is faith in God at all still relevant to us?

Of course some people cannot see all the innovation that surrounds them as their stares are transfixed at one human innovation in front of them. Yes, I am referring to the smartphone. And yes, I feel rather naked without mine. As someone who began gaming on an Atari 2600 and computing with a Commodore 64, the iPhone is an excellent example of human ingenuity. Look at us, is there anything we cannot do?

There was once a people who were in danger of a similar line of thought. They were once oppressed slaves in the land of Egypt, but were soon to be living in a good land with all the wealth that such land would bring. They might say “look how far we have come, is anything impossible for us?” And to this people, God says through Moses:

. . . when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, . . . Do not say to yourself, “My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth . . . (Deuteronomy 8:13,14,17,18 NRSV)

For the people to take credit for how far they had come would be akin to my generation taking credit for the Allied victory in World War Two. Our generation, like very other generation remembers those who won the victory. To do otherwise would be the height of arrogance. And how arrogant can we be when with self-congratulatory tone we intone on the wealth of human invention and innovation, yet forget God “who gives you power to get wealth.” It is God who gives us the resources to work with, the hands to work the resources, the minds to work the hands, and the hearts to keep the minds working. Is anything impossible for us? The question ought to be “is anything possible without God?”

To be so self-congratulatory while forgetting God is an attempt to steal God’s glory. Even in matters of salvation we are prone to wanting to steal God’s glory. We think we can be good enough that God will have to accept us when we die. “Yes, He is holy, but I can be holy too.” Actually no. We can no more be good enough before God based on our own righteousness than the Israelites could cross the Red Sea by their own miracle working. We depend on God’s work of salvation through Jesus Christ. We cannot steal God’s glory. We must remember Him. There are many fine churches in our area which will help you do that.

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