This week I read the latest book by the amazing and inimitable Anne Lamott: Help, Thanks, Wow – The Three Essential Prayers. * In it, she tells a profound joke (source unknown) that contains more truth than most of the sermons I’ve heard:
Q: What’s the difference between me and God?
A: God doesn’t think he’s me.
This mistaken identity issue has been a problem, not just for me, but for countless people through the ages, from King Nimrod at Babel to David Koresh and Jim Jones. Confusing myself with the One True God shouldn’t be a problem; there are significant differences. He created the universe, I can’t even create a shed correctly. He offers forgiveness, unconditional love, and eternal life. I can offer a pat on the back and a pain in the neck (or some lower region).
Yup, it’s part of man’s nature to aspire to be God – to be our own (and everyone else’s) master. Only recently, however, has the technology existed to make inroads toward mimicking divine attributes. (These aren’t completely original thoughts. I first heard this in a discussion by a terrific author/speaker/therapist/etc, Dan Allender.)
What is Google but an attempt to be omniscient? With their smartphones at hand, people can (and do, whether you want it or not) answer any and all questions put to them. The Great and Powerful Oz (talk about a God-complex!) has nothing on the average schmuck with an iPad.
Omnipresence would seem like a tougher nut to crack, but what do you think Twitter is? I can tweet (why isn’t it “twit”?) my presence into any context at any time. Some gauge their self-esteem and value by the number of followers they string along. (Facebook is less mobile but amounts to the same thing with all those pseudo-friends.)
We won’t even talk about omnipotence. That’s been one of mankind’s greatest goals all along from the humble lever to the nuclear bomb. (Not to mention Viagra.) Somehow, the increasing ability to wipe out more and more lives falls somewhere south of divine.
If you think this is far-fetched, check out the latest ad campaign for Sprint iPhone 5. The less-than-subtle tag line is, “I Am Unlimited”. Jesus was nearly stoned to death when He made a similar claim. And for Him it was true.
*While I don’t necessarily agree with everything Ms. Lamott writes, she’s always a pleasure to read. Plus, she typically hits a lot closer to the heart of the gospel than most self-righteous how-to books.