The Humility of a Selfish God

Phil Vischer, of Veggie Tales fame, got me thinking with his blog that poses the question: Is God Selfish? You really should read the article, but (spoiler alert), the answer is YES!

God takes a bad rap for that in some circles, but (let’s face it), the answer is obvious. (Yes, and He is jealous too!)

So what?

Again, read the article. Phil Vischer lays it out in terms that even children who don’t like vegetables can understand. (Spoiler alert again) God is God, and he has a right to be selfish, and jealous, and…. well… He can just be and do whatever He wants. The world is His! He “wrote the book” as they say (with pun very much intended).

I know that doesn’t sit well in modern society. I have to admit that I am somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of an omnipotent, omniscient God doing whatever the heaven He wants to do, myself, at times. I kind of like being in control and… well… it’s just plain unsettling.

But here’s the thing – God is necessarily maximal.

Ok, I know what you’re saying (Wait! What?); but that’s just it: God is maximal. He is the greatest (and I don’t mean Mohammad Ali).

If you listen to Dr. William Lane Craig, which I highly recommend by the way, you will hear him use the phrase “maximally great being”. He uses that phrase in the context of discussion about the origins of the universe, the origins of morality, etc. For the universe to have a beginning, there must be a Beginner. For objective morality to exist, there must be a maximally moral being to establish the standard of morality.

The maximally moral being is also the being which is maximally good, maximally great, maximally powerful, maximally knowledgeable, etc. You get the idea. Whatever this Maximal Being is, this is God. If such a Being exists, if such a Being necessarily exists, this Being is God.

Got it? (Ok, I don’t blame you. It isn’t that simple. If you want a thorough explanation, should listen to Dr. Craig explain. [a])

In the meantime, the juxtaposition of God’s selfishness, which I think we have to admit, against another maximal characteristic of God – humility – is striking. Yes, striking! and interesting…

So, this is what I mean. God, the Maximally Greatest Being, the BIG GUY who created all that is, “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Philippians 2:7) If that is not a mind blower, I don’t what is. Really! He emptied himself of all of his maximal greatness and took on the form of the one of the very things he created.

I have hard time squeezing into the pants I wore two years ago. God squeezed all the way down from maximal greatness to fit himself into the fragile flesh and blood of a human being, and a baby at that. He didn’t skimp on the way; He stooped all the way down to the humble beginnings of infancy, but that was not all. He humbled himself even further!

He became obedient to His own directives to the point of death, a humiliating, excruciating death on the cross! (Philippians 2:8)

In doing this, God demonstrated maximal humility. He could not have humbled himself any further.

So the interesting thing is this: God is both selfish (justifiably so), and jealous (and who is to say He can’t be) and maximally humble at the same time.

While people in certain camps take umbrage at the selfishness and jealousy of God revealed in the Bible, I don’t hear them talking about the incredible (maximal) humility God showed in becoming one of us and offering himself up for us to death on a cross.

God has every right to be selfish and jealous. The most amazing thing is that He is willing to be utterly humble and loving for our sake. We do not deserve that and could not rightfully expect God to be like that, but He is!


[a] The idea of a maximally great being is a component of the Ontological Argument for the existence of God. Dr. Craig explains the Ontological Argument ins the three part series of videos below.

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