How often do we, in our shortsightedness, get caught up in our own projects because God’s current call to us seems too small? How can we be so proud, so arrogant as to believe that we care more, know more, or even have the capacity to care or know more than God does?

For instance:

In the book of Genesis, God’s people were called to fill and subdue the earth. However, feeling that this call was insufficient, decided to start on their own project, to build a tower to heaven. “God,” they (might have) said, “your plan for us is too small. If we spread out too far how will we be able to put all our minds together and do great and wondrous things?” Eventually, their doubts became rebellion, and with aim to receive the divine blessings (which God had already bestowed upon them at their call) without a relationship with God, they began to build the tower of Babel. It isn’t usually helpful to ponder what might have happened, but it’s interesting to think of how the Tower of Bable incident (and the resulting confusing of languages) changed the course of human interaction and the development of the human race. What would be different had our ancestor’s obeyed the call from the beginning?

Then we enter the book of Exodus, where in the few chapters preceding chapter 32 we get the instruction manual for “God’s project”, that is, the tabernacle. God chose the Israelites to prepare a place for him to come down and dwell among them in the world! He would be their God and they would be his people. However, while Moses was up on the mountain, God’s people became impatient and decided to break ground on their own little project: The Golden Calf. Defying Moses’ specific directions to “wait”, and God’s explicit desire that they not make images of him, Aaron, at the behest of the people, decided to bring God down themselves, in a way that probably looked a lot like the worship of their neighbors. And as if to say “This is the taste that your actions leave in God’s mouth”, Moses grinds up the calf and has them all drink a golden milkshake while they think about what they have done.

One time I was sitting at the IV table on Sproul and this middle aged man walked up to our table and struck up a conversation with us. He told us that he used to be a Christian, but had since found something that made more sense. Humanism. He asked us to look around us and see all the glorious things Man had created, the buildings, the seemless interaction between campus and trees and people. “The Good humanity has down outweighs the Bad”, he said. The obvious response to this type of gibberish would obviously be, “Whatchu smokin’ homie?” One need not even look to the Middle East or Africa to find overwhelming evidence contrary to his worldview but even down the street at People’s Park, or a few miles away in Oakland or Richmond where people live in abject poverty and violence (in extremely close proximity, I might add, to some of the richest people in the entire world).

But don’t we sometimes get caught up in our own types of “human projects”? Any sort of progress or betterment of society, when isolated from the redemptive work of Jesus on the Cross is humanism. If we’re honest with ourselves, is there a part of us that believes that if people were more educated, or if the income/wealth gap was smaller, or if our laws were more perfect then society would run smoothly?

But is that not the most insidious and poisonous type of lie? Not only is it based in human pride, but it also places the problem (and the blame) in the external world, in our environment, or our government or on “them”.

When our goal becomes World Peace (in the sense that there are no wars), or Equal Opportunity, or Ending Hunger, we are still thinking too small. Can we not imagine a world where there are no wars, where if people try really hard they can be economically successful, and are never hungry (unless they want a sixpack), but continue to be heartbroken and longing for more? Yes we can! (haha) We need to think big (baby)! God’s plan for this world and for the Church and for humanity’s relationship with Him are wayyyy bigger than we can ever imagine. But for now, He gives us glimpses: through dreams and people and community and worship and food and music and in unexpected places, and maybe that’s all that we can handle. And for now, that will have to be enough.

… it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but
too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and
sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant
child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot
imagine what is meant by the offer of
a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. – C.S. Lewis


~ by justinhong on November 3, 2008.

4 Responses to “”

  1. hey! did you delete my commenet? or did i just not press submit. but i really like this post. hahaha. i think i’m learning a lot a bout this.. in the context of job searches 😦

  2. well, i don’t know if i’m learning.. but noticing more like it. 😛 i feel its particularly hard to entrust all my dreams (or “projects”) to god.

  3. agreed! sometimes, i am concerned with the way we look at our projects/ministries because the prize becomes something other than Jesus, in which case our projects mean crap and won’t go anywhere near anything that God has planned. and justin, i’m sorry if i snatched your boyfriend away from you. you’re just jealous 🙂

  4. justin, i am quite encouraged by your musings/revelations. they are very growingly.

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