Reading the title of this post can either produce anxiety or give your soul rest. If you claim to follow Jesus, there’s a chance it leads to both.
The title is drawn from a line in Rudy, a biographical sports film released in 1993. My father has been repeating the line which the title of this article quotes consistently as of late, almost as if to directly uproot my desire to often convince myself that, yes, I can play God. The more he repeats it, the more I am humbled and learn, no, I am not God nor will I ever be. Nevertheless, there is a reason we need to humble our hearts on a daily basis. There is a God and I am not Him. Rinse, wash, repeat.
Throughout scripture, we see Biblical figures “playing God” and trying to enact a sort of man-made sovereignty in their lives. From Adam and Eve to Jesus’ disciples we are shown explicitly that we are certainly not God but also that we were never meant to be. In contrast to these failed attempts at seeing exactly why we are not God, there is hope found elsewhere.
Consider John the Baptist. John was a man who spent his life in the wilderness until the word of God came to him and prompted him to go into the region around the Jordan proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (see Luke 3:2&3). John’s words alone caused some to question whether or not he himself was the Christ. Many would perhaps expect him to respond by taking some credit. Others perhaps would point out that he may have never even met Jesus. However, John’s answer should reveal to us how self-seeking we are. He responds not by making his own name great or rattling off what great things he has done but instead makes way for Jesus. To only add to his humble manner, John states that he is not worthy to untie the straps of Jesus’ sandals. This required extreme humility and submission. This required an understanding that although John’s ministry was important, one who was better and greater would soon come. To untie a pair of sandals, one would expect to have to kneel down. John seemed to not only know this but want this. To kneel at the feet of his Savior would simply personify his ministry. To kneel at the feet of his Savior would be to completely surrender.
Is this the way of our hearts? Do we make way for Jesus and readily admit that He is mightier than we are? Do we seek complete surrender as we kneel at the feet of Jesus? Too often not.
Rather than make way for Jesus, we promote ourselves to ring-leader. If you are anything like me, you do this like clockwork. It is rare that I find myself not looking to stand in as the interim-savior. I have seen this play out most in relationships with others. A people pleaser to a fault, I love to convince myself that I hold things together. In friendships, I always imagine dystopias in which all of my friends abandon one another because I have failed to bring them together. In dating relationships, I look to rescue. These selfish acts do not honor God. God is our sole rescue. Only in God are meaningful relationships found and edified. Our pride is out in the open. It ensnares us. It captivates us and always has. It is what Adam and Eve fell to in the garden. It is what the disciples were ridden with.
My mind always seems to dart to movie scenes in which a character is trapped in quick sand and only sinks quicker as they work to get themselves out. To escape pride requires not resistance but compliance; not control but submission. We cannot shake ourselves free.
Now, may our hearts and minds find peace in knowing that yes, God is present and sovereign and no, these will never be descriptors of ourselves. May we join in praise singing, “Then I shall bow in humble adoration, and there proclaim, “My God, how great Thou art”. Enjoy the dialogue from the movie.
Rudy: Maybe I haven’t prayed enough.
Father Cavanaugh: I don’t think that’s the problem. Praying is something we do in our time, the answers come in God’s time.
Rudy: If I’ve done everything I possibly can, can you help me?
Father Cavanaugh: Son, in thirty-five years of religious study, I’ve come up with only two hard, incontrovertible facts; there is a God, and, I’m not Him.
There is a God. I am not Him.
To escape pride requires not resistance but compliance; not control but submission.