The God Syndrome

Nancy Arant Williams

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You’ve seen it. It’s all over the news every day though it’s not usually called by any particular name. It involves those who decide that somehow they are above reproach and can defy the law and never pay the price. 

 Though such behavior has been around since time began it’s never been seen in such pandemic proportions, nor has it been brought to light until now.

 In spite of its name this topic isn’t about God in any direct way, but about those who may or may not have humble beginnings, who exalt themselves above others. It happens to people of power and wealth far more often than we’d like to believe.

O.J. Simpson is a very visible, prime example of someone who made it big and then did something so horrendous that no one could believe it. He killed his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and a friend, Ronald Goldman, tried to evade police in one of the longest car chases ever recorded on tape, and, in the end, got away with murder. Apparently he didn’t learn his lesson, however, because thirteen years later he and several friends robbed a sports memorabilia dealer at a Las Vegas hotel, trying to get back items he claimed were his. He was convicted and sentenced to thirty-three years in prison where he remains today. He believed the law did not apply to him.

Here’s the pattern: a person has some kind of success, making big money or gaining a measure of notoriety or fame, as in the O.J. Simpson case. And suddenly it seems as if they can’t fail, and their success goes to their heads—they believe whatever they do will magically succeed, but even more importantly they believe they can do no wrong and are above the law.

At that point, even if they’ve been raised with high moral values and respect for others, they seem to lose perspective throwing all that away and becoming a law unto themselves. This is what I call The God Syndrome.

The first case of this kind is recorded in Isaiah 14, and it actually occurred in the heavens when Lucifer, the stunningly beautiful and musically talented archangel, decided he wanted to be exalted above God Himself. When that didn’t go over big with God, Lucifer, whose name was then changed to Satan, rebelled and led many other angels astray before finally being cast out of heaven forever.

In the human realm, it often happens to those who initially have good intentions, but get off track when success and power make them a name and the money starts rolling in.

Interestingly enough, those with talent to make money or a name, tend to forget that those gifts are from God. In fact, Deuteronomy 8:17-18 says this: “Then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’ And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth that He may establish His covenant, which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”

The question is: Whatever happened to humility and gratitude?

Well, for one thing, in the United States we have been extremely blessed—to the point where, just as it says in Deuteronomy, we start to fall for our own press, and believe we alone are responsible for our success. Then we begin demanding what we believe we deserve. I see it in evidence every time I watch “House Hunters” on HGTV. Young engaged couples, right before their wedding, go house hunting, and see homes that are perfectly decent and abundantly livable, but they predictably say, “Oh, this doesn’t have granite countertops or Brazilian cherry floors. It’ll have to be gutted.” As a nation we simply refuse to settle for ordinary anymore. No matter what the cost, we must have the best. In other words we are just plain spoiled! Who do we think we are? I can honestly say I think this is as clear a symptom as any, of what’s wrong with America.

On the whole we have denied God at every turn, taken credit for His blessings, and have become gods unto ourselves. But the day of reckoning is at hand, and judgment is at the door; our wealth and creature comforts will soon take wings on the wind, a thing of the past. God is humbling us, bringing us back to the place where all we can do is look up and acknowledge once again, that He is God and there is none other.

As a country we’ve had a belly full of selfishness and pride. It’s high time to get back to basics, like love for God and country, patriotism, humility, gratitude, generosity, and kindness.

I Corinthians 10:12 tells us: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” Obadiah 1:3 says: “The pride in your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, who say to yourself, “Who can bring me down to the ground?”

The truth is it’s not about us. Let me say that again. The world doesn’t revolve around us. And while we may have been raised to believe otherwise by parents or others who fanned our egos, each of us is given approximately seventy years plus or minus, to live. And when our time is up, it’s up. No matter what we accomplished here on earth, or how much money or fame we accumulated we take nothing with us into eternity. Job 1:21 tells us: “Naked came I from my mother’s womb and naked shall I return. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed by the name of the Lord.”

And according to Hebrews 9:27: “Just as man is destined once to die, and after that comes judgment.”

Whether we want to believe it or not we will all face judgment, and if we have not humbled ourselves, repented of our sin and accepted God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ we will consign ourselves to hell and be separated from God for eternity.

Do you suffer from The God Syndrome? If so, now is the time to humble yourself before God, because, according to Matthew 23:12: “Whosoever shalt exalt himself will be humbled, and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”  In verses 20-21 it goes on to say, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil…Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and prudent in their own sight.”

2 Chronicles 7:14 says this: “If my people who are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and heal their land.” Let me suggest that it’s time to repent.

Galatians 6:7 says: “Do not be deceived. God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap.”

To emphasize the point I want to share a list of well-known people of influence who died untimely deaths.

John Lennon: During a 1966 interview, he said, “Christianity will end. I do not have to argue about that. I am certain. Jesus was okay, but his subjects were too simple. Today we (the Beatles) are more famous than Him.” He lost his life on December 8, 1980, after being shot six times by a jealous stalker.

Tancredo Neves (the late president-elect of Brazil)

During the presidential campaign he said that if he got 500,000 votes from his party not even God could remove him from office. Sure he got the vote, but he got sick the day before the inauguration, and died, never to be president.

Cazuza (Bisexual Brazilian composer, singer and poet): During a show in Rio de Janeiro he was smoking a cigarette when he puffed smoke in the air and said, “God, that’s for you.” He died a horrible death of lung cancer at age thirty-two.

The Titanic:

An unnamed vice president of the White Star Line was quoted on April 15, 1912, “We place absolute confidence in the Titanic. We believe that boat is unsinkable. Not even God can sink it.” I think we all know how that turned out.

Bon Scott: (ex-vocalist for AC/DC): In one of his 1979 songs he sang these words: “Don’t stop me. I’m going down all the way, down the highway to hell.” On February 19, 1980 he was found dead after choking on his own vomit. 

Christina Hewitt: (Jamaican journalist & entertainer): She said the Bible was the worst book ever written. In June 2008 she was found burned beyond recognition in her car.

In Campinas, Brazil a group of drunken youths stopped to pick up a friend. Her worried mother accompanied her to the car and took her hand through the window once she was inside. Her mother said, “My daughter, go with God. And may He protect you.” The girl responded, “Only if He (God) travels in the trunk, ‘cause in here it’s already full.” Hours later news came that they had been involved in a fatal accident and everyone died. The car was unrecognizable, but surprisingly the trunk was intact. Police said there was no way the trunk should’ve been intact. To their surprise, inside the trunk was a crate of eggs, and not a single one was broken. (Can you hear me now? God)

Michael Jackson: (from a memorial video):

Those who worked with Michael Jackson said he became convinced he was immortal and a god, increasingly losing touch with reality. He even produced a final MTV video called “Invincible.”

He died of a cardiac arrest after a probable drug overdose on June 25, 2009.

These stories break the heart of God who loved each and every one of these people. In fact He actually sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to redeem them and us from sin, death, and eternal separation from God in hell. But we tempt fate when we not only reject His gift of salvation, but thumb our noses at God, believing we answer to no one.

You and I have one life to live, so what do we want to be remembered for? It might help to realize that exalting ourselves will leave us empty and frustrated. And though exerting control might look tempting, the truth is that demanding, egotistical people alienate others, and often die depressed and alone. The legacy they leave behind is pathetic and sad, and certainly nothing worthy of praise.

One last thing: I recently heard about a university study that examined what makes people feel truly glad, bringing fulfillment and purpose. The results of the study were astonishing. The one thing that really gave people a feeling of satisfaction was doing kind things for others.

In the end, we have to admit that Jesus was right after all. It’s all about a personal relationship with Jesus--all about love and having a servant’s heart. Anything else is a lie and will bring down its owner with lies and empty, unfulfilled promises of glory that can’t last.

Maybe it’s time to re-examine our priorities and get back to the business of repentance and holiness. It’s time to settle the issue before it’s too late! If not now, when?





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