In school, we learn about mathematical inequalities (and perhaps also social inequalities, but that is another topic). The symbols “>” and “<” stand for “greater than” and “less than”. When I was a child, the teacher would remind us that, “the alligator [represented by the ‘jaws’ of the symbol] is eating the larger number”. As an engineer and a software developer, these symbols have become second nature to me over time, along with a number of related concepts (not less than; greater than or equal to; etc.) and symbols (“>>” to represent “much greater than”; “≥” or “>=” for defining “greater than or equal to” to a program; etc.).
There are a number of references in the Bible to these terms, as well. If you’re interested in studying this topic at length, I encourage you to use a web search, or a concordance. Today, though, let’s take a look at just a couple.
First, though, let’s agree on the key point: God > Me. This has two implications:
Me ≠ God (or Me <> God or Me != God, if you’re a computer programmer)
That is, “I am not God”. As we become more knowledgeable (in our age of information), and more educated (whether formally, or just by learning through experience as we grow older), it is tempting to think that we – as a society – will eventually unlock all knowledge and figure out how to do anything we want to.
This concept is a common story line in science-fiction, whether in short stories, movies, or graphic novels. More “advanced” humans (or aliens or robots) become more powerful (through technology, knowledge, evolution, or the occasional freak labratory accident), and reach a new level of superiority over the rest of us. But, this is science fiction. In the actual universe, there is a God that is so far beyond us that we have no hope of even coming close to His power or knowledge. In fact, we are dependent upon Him reaching out to us, in order for us to even have a relationship with Him (albeit still not a relationship of two equal parties).
Me << God
That is, “I am much less than God”. Yes, God has reached out to us. He has shared specific knowledge with us – about Himself, about His plan, and about our place in it. He even sent His son, Jesus (who is also God, but that’s a complexity for another discussion), to show us what God is like, and to both teach and illustrate to us how we should live. In fact, Jesus even paid the price for our bad choices, when we fell short and couldn’t make up for them, ourselves.
Still, this is not us somehow raising ourselves up to God’s level. It is Him reaching “down” to us, and building a path for us to restore our relationship with Him again (after we messed things up by choosing to damage that relationship).
It is great that we can able to talk with God, share with Him, and eventually to live forever with Him. However, we cannot let this opportunity cause us to forget that He is fundamentally and irreversibly greater than we are.
Many Christian hymns and songs talk about how Jesus is our friend, and how He takes care of us. That is true, but Jesus is also sovereign (meaning that He has authority and say over everything, since He created it), and all-powerful.
We must remain respectful of that, and not try to bring God down to our level. After all, the claim that we could become “like God” was the precursor to the first sin, in Genesis 3:4-5:
The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Genesis 3:4-5 NASB
Obviously, listening to this lie and breaking God’s instructions (not to eat from the one forbidden tree) did not make Adam and Eve “like God”. In fact, it led to their expulsion from the Garden of Eden, to being cursed (along with the rest of the world), and to a fallen world destined for death. (Not that we can blame them alone – we have each made the choice to sin, as well.)
So, we must maintain a balance. On the one hand, it is ok to talk with God openly and freely. The path that He created for us to talk with Him is there for us to use. On the other hand, we must also remember that we are the lesser party in this covenant, and that God is the greater party.
This is suggested in the encounter of Abraham and Melchizedek (which I encourage you to read about in Genesis 14, or to learn more about from Hebrews 7), as mentioned in Hebrews 7:7:
But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater.
Hebrews 7:7 NASB
I encourage you, whether today, or over the next few days, to take some time to reflect upon God’s awesomeness (the original kind, not the ’80’s Valley Girl kind), and to speak to Him and others about how you feel about it. Here are some potential situations where you may find it easier to do so, just to get you started:
- Your one-on-one time with God
- A worship service with other Christians
- Conversations with others who acknowledge how great God is
If you need some motivation or ideas, the Bible tells of God’s greatness throughout its books.
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
He also is to be feared above all gods.
1 Chronicles 16:25 NASB
(See also Psalm 95, Nehemiah 1:5-6, Psalm 48:1, Deuteronomy 10:17)
May this realization bring you joy that the infinite God cares about you, and that our relative smallness – compared to Him – is all the more reason to appreciate His kindness.
For some related reading, see:
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.
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