Tuesday, April 22, 2014

If God is Real - Why Can't I See Him?

Probably one of the most frequent objections to the existence of God is the fact that He can't be seen.  This objection takes many forms.  Sometimes it comes in the way of a fist, shaken at the heavens, calling upon the Unseen to just do something and make Himself known.  Other times in comes through the weeping frustration of unanswered prayers. 

But the underlying concern being raised is ultimately the same:  If God is real, why doesn't He just say so. 

Both believers and unbelievers dismiss the objection that He somehow "can't" do this.  The very notion of God implies an omnipotence that surely allows for self-disclosure.  He has done so in the past, according to the Biblical record.  So why not now? 

Sometimes we Christians respond with answers like this:  "But He HAS shown Himself.  Look at Creation, look at the Bible, and see His ultimate revelation in His Son Jesus Christ."  These responses are true enough.  But I don't think they usually satisfy the objector.  The soul that raises this question is looking for something more.  The painting proves there is a painter.  But we still like to meet and learn about the painter directly if possible. 

My own answer to this question has changed over the years.  I have now come to look at it in a different way.

Why doesn't God just SHOW Himself in some miraculous but undeniable way?

I think the answer begins with recognizing that God likes different things than we do.  Bear with me.  Have you ever met someone with an odd collection of trinkets?  You aren't quite sure what they see in them, but clearly they just adore them and keep looking for more to add to their collection.  Maybe their interest in these things seems utterly unreasonable.  But for that person, they are everything.

Now, if another human being could delight in something strange, surely God Himself might have something He delights in that we can't totally understand.  His nature is different.  His perspective is different.  He's been around a bit longer. 

When I look at what the Bible says about God, I discover there is something He loves that I don't fully comprehend.  That thing is faith.  To me, the concept of faith is a bit obscure.  It is not an attribute that enters into my daily routine too often.  I prefer evidence.  But this God of the Bible, though no enemy of evidence, expresses much more delight in this thing He calls faith.

And lo and behold, when I look at the world He has designed and His method of disclosing Himself, it is this "faith" that appears to be what He is looking for.  He has, according to His own wisdom, scattered throughout our world enough evidence of His existence to make faith reasonable.  But at the same time, has NOT disclosed Himself so much as to make faith unnecessary. 

We may argue that this arrangement isn't suited well to our natures.  But that only suggests that maybe our natures are in need of some work.  To say there is not enough "evidence" for me to believe sort of misses the point.  The faith that God delights in rests upon the clues and then trusts Him for the rest. 

And when you think about it, this isn't so far-fetched.  We do it, to some degree, every day.  We see the evidence that thousands have eaten at a particular restaurant and lived.  So we take it on faith we will live too.  The elevator held up the last batch of travelers.  We trust it will do so for us. 

Have you seen the clues?  Then don't ask for more evidence.  Doing so would only weaken the very thing God loves to see in us:  faith in Himself and in His Son Jesus Christ.  There is more to the story than this.  There is more to being a Christian than believing in the existence of God.  But a story needs to start somewhere, and there is a starting line to every race.  And this faith, that God loves, prepares the way.