Living In A World That God Did Not Create

The world in your handsYou are not God. If that seems like basic Christianity 101, I’d agree, and yet I find myself reiterating that exact truth often. Both in counseling myself and helping others I repeat the idea, “you are not God.” It seems to me that at the root of a number of different struggles is this very tendency: to act as though we are God. It is particularly evident in cases where people have created a world of their own making and are then attempting to live in that world. You cannot live in a world that God did not create.

I first encountered that language from my colleague Denise Hardy. It’s a brilliant way to communicate reality to those who struggle with anxiety, dissociative identity disorder, and even lust. The tendency for many of us is to create mental-pictures of possibilities. It’s not uncommon, for example, for me to picture an intense conversation I must have, to play out potential talking points and responses and to try to anticipate what that conversation will look like. Others of us try to picture what a finished project will look like, or what our wedding day might look like. We can mentally visualize all kinds of things. The danger is when we attempt to live within that mental-picture.

For someone who struggles with anxiety, there is a tendency to predict what a particular feared outcome might look like and then to work oneself into such an anticipation of that possibility that it becomes reality in our minds. We begin to live as if the feared outcome has actually transpired. That’s the moment in which we are living in a world that God has not created.

In other cases this tendency may manifest itself in the creation of a completely alternate personality. There is a significant amount of debate regarding the validity of the label Dissociative Identity Disorder, or what used to be called Multiple Personality Disorder, and this definitely should not be the only way we think about the subject. But it can be exceedingly helpful to think in this way because, after all, that is precisely what is happening. An alternate universe is being created by the individual. Living in that universe is a sin.

God created reality. When I attempt to exist in a world of my own creating there are always going to be problems. After all, God does not promise to help me, comfort me, guide me in the problems of a fictional world. He does promise to help me, comfort me, and guide me in the problems I face in reality. So, living in a world that God did not create leaves me helpless against sin and temptation, fear and attack. It’s important, then, for us to consider how we can fight against this temptation.

Several key concepts can help us stay grounded in the world that God has made. First, we need to remember that our emotions can be misleading. My emotions have been contaminated by sin and so they may often lead me to believe things that are not true. I need to evaluate how I feel, not simply submit to how I feel. Second, I need to trust God’s Word over my emotions. When my feelings contradict what God says I have a choice to make: either I will believe God or I will believe my sinful emotional state. I must submit and subject my emotions to the standard of truth found in the Bible. Finally, I need to involve several key people in my life who will regularly remind me that I may not be living in reality. I need to submit my thoughts, fears, anxieties, and even joys, to those who know me and have a strong grasp of the real world and Biblical truth. They need to be given permission to rebuke me when I attempt to live in a world that God has not created.

It’s not that these simple steps are all you need. Long-term Biblical discipleship is needed for each of us who struggle in this way. But these steps are an important first step. If we begin here then we can start to see reality and falsehood more clearly. You cannot live in a world that God did not create.

Comments

  1. Michele Binienda says:

    Oh wow!!! I’ve been having a conversation with myself imagining the other person’s responses. (I believe there’s a conflict and I don’t think she sees it that way. We only talk on the phone right now as she is out of state). Very good insight for me on this among other things.

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