“The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. Acts 14:11-12
Apparently, physicians are, on occasion, capable of such pride and arrogance that others consider them to have a god complex. Of course I’m never guilty of such behavior. It’s just that I’m a doctor and so, I think that I’m always right and that everyone who isn’t a doctor should just do what I say. But it’s only at work (mostly), so it’s OK, right? By now, I assume you’re rolling your eyes at my ego, and of course you’re right to do so. I’m not a god and it’s repulsive when I attempt to act like one. People, even physicians, are not gods.
Still, it’s nearly a universal human flaw – whether we consciously realize it or not – for man to desire to be his own god. In today’s passage, God worked through two individuals, Paul and Barnabas, miraculously healing a crippled man. Those who witnessed the event didn’t worship the one true God, but rather elevated the apostles to the status of gods. In their terminal self-centeredness, they preferred their gods to be men like themselves.
We may say we have no desire to be godlike, but yet, we usually follow ourselves, making a god of our own will. We were created to follow God above all, but we’re terribly offended at the idea of bowing down to anything but ourselves. We claim to follow Christ, but our behavior reveals that we follow our own wants, needs, and desires above all. By definition, this means we worship ourselves. Whether we consciously realize it or not, we are gods in our own eyes.
The problem of course, is that we’re not God. We’re all finite, flawed, and have terribly self-destructive natures. Left to our own devices, we can never become what we were created to be. We’ll never truly experience freedom, joy, and life, because those things can only be found in following God, not ourselves.
It’s more obvious in some – doctors for example – but when we follow ourselves, we reveal that we all have a god complex. If we truly desire to become who we were created to be, and if we want to know a life of faith and recovery, then we must daily choose to follow God’s way above our own.