A wonderful pastime on a beach, on a lazy Sunday or when relishing a holiday is to simply imagine that you were God. You could BE anything, DO anything and HAVE anything. Your every wish is at your command. You can make things right and forever end human folly and stupidity.
Only, what do you really want? If you ask people on the street, they will burst out laughing, as it is hard to take this question seriously. At first, you might dream of endless partying and orgies, infinite wealth at your disposal, goofing off without any repercussions.
After a while, you would realize that cheap thrills don’t quite cut it. You want something more significant. If humanity is challenged, if the ecosystem seems stressed beyond repair, you want to be the Savior, the One to fix it forever.
But then you begin to think. Can you have up without down? Light without darkness? Good without evil?
Big Daddy or Mamma on the throne?! For most of us growing up, God was the Big Boss in the sky, a benevolent despot who might punish you for the slightest infraction; however, He was not above kissing and making up. God is commonly called Higher Power or the Supreme Being. As the theologians put it, God is omnipotent (all powerful), omnipresent (everywhere) and omniscient (all-knowing).
This conception derives from the Ancient Middle East, in particular, the great river civilizations of Babylon and Egypt. The Emperor was the equivalent of God, and wielded absolute authority over his subjects. Often, he (usually a male, but sometimes a female) would erect a huge statue and command his subjects to worship under the penalty of death.
Due to the success of the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), this view was spread around the world, shaping the modern view, which immediately followed it. In truth, the traditional image is idolatrous. Yet it makes sense that the Creator would include both the personal and the impersonal. How can mere mortals worship that which they can’t see, hear, touch, taste or smell?
While you might initially find the offer to be God, even if only for a day, irresistible, you will immediately begin to realize what you are taking on. Let’s just play with the popular conception of God, not necessarily the God Who is actually there.
First thing, you are besieged by prayer requests of your faithful, who call you by radically different names. Many of these requests contradict other requests, and you must decide which to honor, and which to graciously decline. Then you realize that they can come at you with frightening speed. You might get a million requests an hour, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. This will make the job of Santa and his elves look like a breeze!
Second, you will soon realize that the prayers you answer are rarely reciprocated. In other words, your creatures don’t feel it is their duty to thank you for creating them in the first place. If you grant their request, this is only what you are supposed to do. Rather than thank you, they will give you yet another request, ad infinitum.
While in theory, you have infinite possibilities; you must deal with practical constraints. Physicists have determined dozens of essential factors in creating a universe. They must all line up perfectly in order to have intelligent life. For examples, all the hydrogen atoms had to be a certain way, or they would all collapse into a huge crunch, or blow apart before the material world could be created. This is called the anthropic principle.
You could override human will by using force, but you might find that you are violating your own laws that you used to set up the game. You can certainly do things to scare the daylights out of humanity, but you will not necessarily command their respect, and you will most certainly fail to inspire their love.
You could push the button and end it all. But then, what have you accomplished? Why did you create the universe in the first place? (We see this scenario in the story of Noah and the Flood. However, it is significant that, even in this horrific account, God chose to save a remnant and replenish the Earth.)
If you want to assume the role of the Man or Woman on the Golden Throne, you are going to have to choose between being a good guy, but weak, or a bad guy, but tough-assed. How else do we explain the World Wars, the Jewish Holocaust and Global Warming? From a strictly human standpoint, no God worth His salt would have allowed humanity to go so amuck as to create nuclear weapons.
If you opt for power, you will contravene human will, making any remaining subjects puppets that worship you out of terror, but despise you behind your back. Even if you insist on doing all the right things, such as securing world peace, an egalitarian monetary system and a healthy planet, you have castrated the very humanity you were training to be divine.
If you opt for goodness, you will be admired by the liberals, but sneered at by the conservatives for not being man enough to make a real difference. You become a perpetual appeaser that lets villains get away with murder. Who is going to stand up for the widow and the oppressed?
We all fall into the temptation of playing God, rather than being God. To play God means to prove that you are God by dominating other people, insisting on the last word, always coming in first place, regardless of how it impacts others. To be God is to recognize that everyone you meet is also God, no matter how difficult they happen to be. The only proper response is to honor and love them.
If you elect to PLAY God on the Golden Throne, you might find it fun for a while. However, it will soon become rather hollow. No one will like you, let alone love you. You will increasingly find yourself all alone. Just think of the presidents, executives and entertainers who opted to play God. They might get away with murder, but they will never be truly happy.
If you elect to BE God, you won’t be enamored with your throne. You will walk down the steps, shake hands and hug the people in your life. You will recognize them as also divine, and invite them to share the throne with you. You will consider it an honor to serve them. If you were lord of anything, it would be the Lord of Love.
The biggest penalty of assuming divine prerogatives is that you are responsible for it all. You can’t honestly point to any of your creatures and say, “You did it! It’s all your fault!” This is a truly childish conception of God. If you look at 9 / 11, you recognize that you caused it. We are all accountable, but no one is to blame.
If you want to assume something less than 100% responsibility, you will soon find that you are no longer a leader, as you have no willing followers. The mark of a truly great leader is that she assumes the mistakes of her followers. It was really her fault in not ensuring that they were up to the task.
You will empower yourself in direct proportion to giving up blame. The supremely inspiring leaders of humanity, Buddha, Christ and Muhammad, for example, were willing to assume responsibility for it all. Buddha probed all his incarnations, Christ discovered the way of universal love and Muhammad discovered the power of absolute surrender.
If you are going to create a universe, and then create humanity as intelligent beings with the potential to fully appreciate God, you have got to give them free will. This is the breakthrough insight of the Christian narrative. While our Source has infinite power, He will not override our volition, because this would eliminate forever the possibility of love.
We may succeed in creating robots more intelligent than us, but it is doubtful that we will ever create them with a greater love. It may be realized that love more fully defines our humanity than our intelligence. If this is true, as the Apostle John proclaimed, that God IS Love, then love is more powerful than force every single time.
God IS Love... then... love is more powerful than reckless force every single time.
Could it be that our Source was more than willing to take the gamble that His creation would despise Him? Only in this way, could God and creature love one another. If you accept the conventional understanding that the distance between God and us is that between a colony of ants and a city of people, you will realize what a remarkable choice this was.
As you grow older, you begin to realize that reward and punishment are never it. We are all learning. Each of us is doing the best he or she can under the circumstances… no matter how crazy the choices may be. The idea of the Last Judgment only makes sense in terms of a life review.
Could it be that we are in a school of divinity? Our planet and our life were set up as the perfect vehicle to awaken us to the divine.
Could it be that we were all God, but deliberately chose to forget, to get lost in a myriad of possibilities to that we could find our way back home? Could it be that hide and go seek, on and off, are the very pulse of creation?
Could it be that it is all perfect just the way that it is? It is perfect that you play God or return to being God. The more familiar you get with power and love, the more you will choose love. The power of love is beyond reckoning. No human folly can withstand unconditional love. Every human heart has a set point where it will surrender to a greater love.
If you have the courage and tenacity to play this little game of “If you were God” to its logical conclusion, shocking insights may arise that could truly transform you. We are all moving to much greater God than the One we met with as a child.
Who and what we call “God” is our only true Self. When we fully realize that there is only God, we can then make every “hell” a “heaven.”