"The Lord is king, . . . robed in majesty; The Lord is robed with power and girded with strength." - Psalm 93:1
Reading the words on a stranger's t-shirt can make for an awkward first encounter so I try to avoid it. Last week, I failed miserably with a guy at the gym sporting a t-shirt that said:
Danger: I am awesome and you are not.
It's true I am not awesome, no argument there. But I wasn't expected to be reminded by a complete stranger at 5:42 a.m. When Mr. Awesome walked by, I discovered the message continued on the back of his shirt. It said:
The Onslaught Of My AWESOMENESS may cause you:
- SERIOUS INJURY
- INABILITY TO MAINTAIN SELF-RESPECT
- FEELINGS OF INFERIORITY
- JEALOUS DELUSIONS
- SUDDEN DECREASE IN CONFIDENCE
- DIGNITY DYSFUNCTION
- TROUBLE PERFORMING
Some people read the Bible and find a similar message coming from a self-aggrandizing God: "I am awesome, you are not. Cower and wither beneath the onslaught of my awesomeness!" Pop atheist Richard Dawkins once called the God of the Old Testament a "megalomaniacal, capriciously malevolent bully." It's not the most informed and well-rounded reading, but from time to time in scripture, he has a point.
As we think about God, we naturally use human terms. Though "we are fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14), when we glorify ourselves, we rob others of joy and dignity. However, when God displays divine glory, joy abounds and all creation is dignified. It would be more selfish for God to withhold glory than to let it shine.
As Christians, we see God's glory displayed supremely in the cross of Christ, which is hardly an act of bullish arrogance on God's part.
Glory be, awesome God! Glory be! Glory be!
Matthew Laney is the Senior Minister of Asylum Hill Congregational Church, UCC, in Hartford, Connecticut.