Last Sunday night, he died. Not in a movie, but in real life.
Lenny Robinson, a Maryland businessman, has portrayed Batman for years, complete with a very realistic costume and Batmobile. He used the character to cheer up children in area hospitals, and became both famous and beloved. Last Sunday night, his Batmobile developed engine trouble, so he pulled to the side of the road. A car then slammed into it, killing Robinson. His funeral is today.
Lenny Robinson wore a costume for a good cause. The same is not always true for the rest of us. We wear costumes to become who we want people to think we are. We have church costumes, work costumes, school costumes. Circumstances influence our character.
Is the same true with God?
The Bible claims that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). But when our prayers seem to go unanswered, we wonder if God loves us. When our family struggles, or our finances are depleted, or our health is threatened, we wonder if these circumstances reflect the changing character of God.
We know that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), because God’s character never changes (cf. Revelation 1:8; Numbers 23:19; Psalm 102:25-27). So, how can God be love when we feel unloved?
Aristotle distinguished between “essence” and “accidents.” An object’s essence is its unchanging nature; its “accidents” can change as circumstances warrant. For instance, the essence of your computer is not that it computes. Its unchanging essence is that it is a metallic/plastic electronic object. It is still such an object if you use it for a paperweight or doorstop, if you throw it as a weapon or hide behind it as a shield.
Our culture judges character by circumstances. We are what we own, or how we look, or what we do. Don’t make the same mistake with God. His essence is that he is love. He does not just do loving things. At all times, in all places, in all ways, he is love.
He is love when he answers our prayers, and when he seems not to answer them. He is love when he heals and when he does not. He is love when his will seems clear and when it does not.
A priest told a beggar, “God give you a good day, my friend.” The beggar answered, “I thank God I have never had a bad one.” The priest said, “God give you a happy life, my friend.” “I thank God,” said the beggar, “I am never unhappy.”
The amazed priest asked, “What do you mean?”
“Well,” said the beggar, “When it is good weather, I thank God; when it rains, I thank God; when I have food, I thank God; when I am hungry, I thank God. Since God’s will is my will, and whatever pleases him pleases me, I am happy always.”
The priest looked at the beggar in astonishment. “Who are you?” he asked. “I am a king,” said the beggar. “Where is your kingdom?” The beggar answered quietly, “In my heart.”
Where is your kingdom today?