I remember where I was standing in a local bookstore several years ago when the New York Times bestselling book, God is Not Great, appeared on the bookshelf. Scanning through the pages, I learned about the late Christopher Hitchens.
The premise of Hitchen’s book is outlined in the subtitle: How Religion Poisons Everything. He asserts that religion is the main source of hatred in the world.
I agree with Hitchens that religion is the main source of hatred in the world. Of course, that depends on how I define religion.
Religion, in its basic form, says “do.” Religion, therefore, is an attempt, at the very root of it, at self-salvation. Self-salvation is a self-made attempt to fix your fundamental problem—your alienation from God. Thus, religion, as defined, is born out of fear, guilt, and emptiness. And this produces guilt-ridden, fear-driven, spiritually insecure people, which results in hatred, war, and violence in the world. Religion, in this sense, does poison everything.
Yet, the fundamental problem is that you cannot fix yourself. You need a rescuer. You need a deliverer. This is why “salvation is from the Lord” (Jonah 2:9).
And this is precisely why God is great. Against the backdrop of our rebellion, wickedness, and alienation, which causes all hatred, God is great because he is gracious and compassionate to undeserving sinners who try to save ourselves in thousands of ways. He’s gracious to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ. The prophet Jonah put God’s greatness like this: “You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity” (Jonah 4:2).
God is great!
Pastor Dan Burrus
For more reasons why God is great, see the sermon “Our Great God”