One of the top stories in the religious world this week has been the announcement that Pope Benedict XVI will resign at the end of the month. It's an especially noteworthy occurrence since it bucks the long-standing trend of popes serving in their positions until death.
I understand that the last time a pontiff resigned was almost 600 years ago. To put it in proper perspective, that previous resignation took place prior to George Washington, John Wesley, Martin Luther, Christopher Columbus, and even Betty White.
Pope Benedict specifically cited health reasons for his decision. Due to his advanced age, he doesn't believe he has the strength in mind and body to continue to adequately fulfill his duties, particularly in a world that is changing so rapidly.
Whether or not you view the pope to be the head of the church on earth, many of us will acknowledge that the ultimate authority and ruler over the church is God Himself. I imagine there are some people around who think it's about time for Him to resign too.
After all, He's also getting on up there in age. He not only goes back before Christopher Columbus, but before Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, Moses, Noah, Adam, and infinitely beyond the beginning of time. Even when the prophet Daniel had a vision of God over 2,500 years ago, He already was pictured with white hair and was referred to as the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9). That would make Him super-ancient now.
Some might suggest that God needs to step aside because He is having a hard time keeping up with the changes in our modern world. He still promotes those old-fashioned ideas about sin and atonement, the devil and hell, absolute truth, holiness and purity, along with other ideas that don't fit in with society's way of thinking today.
If He would just resign and let someone take over who's more progressive, it would make His way considerably more attractive to a lot of people.
Others might think that God may simply be getting tired in His old age and unable to do what He used to do. After all, have you seen any Red Seas being parted lately? Have any of you been resurrected from the dead? Some might wonder if maybe God is just too old and weary to perform those great miracles anymore.
Fortunately, the Bible puts such speculation about God to rest. It clearly reveals Him to be a Divine being who doesn't age and grow tired as we do. He never changes, and never will.
Likewise, His truths do not become outdated. His ideas do not need to be discarded or revised as society changes. His Word still stands today, and it is still as true as ever. If our world is no longer recognizing and conforming to God's Word, it's a sign of the deterioration of our society, not the deterioration of God.
If we're not seeing any miracles in our day, it's not God's fault. There are many people around who will testify to how God is doing great things in their lives. He is still answering prayer. There are miracles taking place around us if we'll just open our eyes and recognize the hand of God in those events.
The Bible declares that "the Creator of the ends of the earth neither faints nor is weary" (Isaiah 40:28). God is no less powerful and no less capable today than He was when He parted the Red Sea for the Israelites.
So God doesn't need to resign. We just need to do a better job of following His leadership and trusting Him to show His power in our lives today.
The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at RevTElder@aol.com.