Editor’s note: “Matters of faith” is a column that provides local religious leaders a place to write about how their respective faiths provide hope, courage and strength in these modern times.
Have you ever noticed a tree full of sweetly singing birds in the spring? Is there anything more natural, more “normal” than such a sight and sound? Did you notice anything out of the ordinary about the tree? Did it seem smug, or arrogant, or presumptuous? I know it might sound like a silly question, but then again, in the times we live, I think it is a fair one.
The answer, of course, is clearly no; there was likely nothing out of the ordinary about the tree. I would say that as trees go, the tree was quite content. Things were just the way they should be, and the tree was perfectly in balance with the harmony it enjoyed with the creatures surrounding it.
What about atoms? Now I am certain you have never sat and looked at one on a warm spring day, or even a cold winter night for that matter. But imagine one in your mind for a moment.
It doesn’t matter which one you choose; iron with 26 protons and 26 electrons zipping around it, or gold with 79 protons, and 79 electrons zipping around it. Just picture it in your mind, a solid center with a cloud of electrons traveling around it with precision, and at great speed. It really is a beautiful thing to behold, at least as best you can in your imagination.
Ions are atoms, or molecules, that have slightly more or less electrons than the number of protons in the nucleus of the atom. (Please bear with me for a minute.) Of course the “natural” state of the atom is when the number of protons and electrons are equal.
Now imagine the atom in your mind losing an electron, becoming an ion, and then with your imagination, it regains the electron. Now picture the nucleus with all of its electrons regained, and all in order.
Do you detect any substantial change in the nucleus when it has the proper number of electrons? Do you detect any smugness or arrogance unbecoming of an iron or gold nucleus? Do you discern any false pride, as it basks in the attention of all those happy, little electrons?
This exercise in imagination has a real purpose I assure you, and leads to something that many people struggle with. There is much that goes on in the universe just like the examples I have described, and we never think twice about it — even if we are aware of it. We never assign anything sinister or braggadocios to these things, and would likely consider someone silly, or just plain foolish to do so.
Let me give a last example. Picture in your mind a family gathering at a beloved holiday. The whole family is there, and all the children have gathered around their loving, and much loved mother. They are truly glad to be with her, and they tell her so; they tell her how wonderful she is, and how grateful they are for all that she has done for them.
Any alarms go off? Any perceived skullduggery slinking in the shadows of your mind? I thought not. This is a perfectly natural and lovely reality.
The Bible tells us that all of creation, all of the angels, and all people in Heaven rejoice around God, praising Him for His kindness and goodness to them, praising Him and telling Him how grateful they are for all He has done. So why is it that so many people look at that picture and say that there is something wrong with it? They say that God must be arrogant to ask for or accept such praise.
I submit that it is as beautiful and normal as the nucleus being enveloped by a cloud of electrons, which would not want to be anywhere else. I believe it is just as natural as birds singing sweetly in the trees, and as children praising their mother, sharing with her their undying adoration for giving them life, for nurturing them, and raising them, instead of spending her time on herself.
Many people see God sitting there receiving such praise, and they see something wrong with that picture. Why? Because they know that if that were them, they would be arrogant, prideful, and undeserving, and I would agree. You and I would be just that.
But God is not like us. God receives, even calls for our praise without an ounce of false pride. There is no arrogance in God’s nature, only love, compassion, and care for His creation, and a willing desire to shed His Light on us.
Do not be jealous that God is not like you; be glad, and praise Him for it. Do not run from the light of God, just because you know how awful you would be if you were God. Instead accept His invitation, and run to Him with praise and adoration.
Jesus died, and rose again that you might be able to receive His forgiveness, and His love. Accept Him by faith, and share your love with Him, just as He shares His love with you.
McCartney is pastor of First Baptist Church of Tooele.