To God be the Glory

 

Whether writing or reading a fantasy story, I believe that the core question that begs the attention of any who enter that particular world is this: Who is God?

What do you need to do to become a hero? How does magic work? What is evil, and what is good? How does it come to pass that good ultimately triumphs? All of the questions of fantasy epics, boiled down to their essence ... Who is God?

That question, which we embrace so readily when venturing into worlds inhabited only by our imaginations, is one that we resist most stridently here in the flesh-and-blood world that is our present reality. How sad! How human.

We think we are the masters of our own destinies, and we stand proud and defiant, shaking our tiny fists at the faith of our fathers, and the God that faith represents.

It is my earnest belief, however, that the God who has created this world for His own good pleasure, and has declared His very nature to be that of Love, has not left us to our own devices--we who have rebelled against His commands and His authority. He has chosen to forgive some of us, not because we have deserved forgiveness in any way, but because of His own love for His creation. A famous Bible verse you may have heard is this: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). God has mercifully granted life to those who believe.

But God is not only loving; He is also holy--a concept we scarcely understand anymore. God's holiness is absolute, His purity unquestionable and unchangeable. And His holiness demands that the penalty for sin--our rebellion against His will--must be paid. That penalty is what the scriptures call death--the polar opposite of the everlasting life promised for those who believe.

That's where Jesus Christ comes in--Jesus, God in the flesh, who lived a perfectly sin-free life, and then suffered and died in our place, a substitutionary payment for our debt--and then rose from the dead triumphant.

Each member of humankind has a life story, a fantasy novel that we are woven into, even if the day-to-day circumstances of our stories seem drab and mundane. But our story is indeed fantastic: it's about good versus evil, about what we must do to become heroes, about the working of a very strong magic.

The thing that surprises us at first--those of us elected for faith--is when we find out we are not even the stars of our own stories. At most, we are sidekicks, the primary supporting characters. In the end, our whole story is about Jesus.

A little disconcerting at first, perhaps: not even the star of my own story. But that's because we have so faint a concept of how incredibly awesome and praiseworthy our leading Man is. It would take years to convince you adequately, if you have never begun to search. And that's even assuming that logical persuasion could engender faith ... which it cannot.

There is an otherworldly music that plays in the ears of the saints ... but only if you have ears to hear such music. The glories of all nature declare the majesty of their Creator ... but only if you have eyes to see. These ears, these eyes come as a gift from God.

Faith does not come to us because of anything that we do. It's God's gift. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8).

Some who sought to know God once asked Jesus, "'What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent'" (John 6:28-29).

I realize that this brief presentation of the case for God may seem disjointed and unconvincing. That's because it comes mostly from me, and reeks of my own frailty. Unless the Holy Spirit is specifically adding His blessing to my words, they're only words. But I would be happy to have a dialogue with you about these things if you are so inclined.

Please take a look at the next page, too, if you'd like to see a list of authors and books that I recommend for further study.

 

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© 2008 Robert W. Tompkins. All rights reserved.