Finding God

Skeptics like to say that it’s irrational to believe in an invisible God, but that’s always struck me as a rather silly claim. It suggests that God ought to be visible in the way that clouds and cabbages are visible, but why should we expect to see God directly? Wouldn’t that make God just another object in the universe, when God is not a thing but the source of all things?

We humans have a habit of setting up criteria for what God should be like and then basing our faith on how well God meets our expectations. But if God is real, that’s exactly backwards. Surely the expectations that matter most are the ones God has for us, not the other way around.

In our consumer culture people are tempted to pass by anything that does not offer immediate rewards. We gravitate toward whatever is most stimulating or satisfying at the moment, and there are a host of options to absorb our time and attention and resources. It’s easy, then, to neglect an invisible God who is patient enough to let us set our hearts and minds on anything we choose, in the hope that sooner or later we will choose to love God and one another.

Like a child who covers his eyes in Hide and Seek and imagines that because he can’t see anybody else, no one can see him either, some people imagine that not seeing God means God doesn’t see them. We smile at the child’s naivete. What do we make of our own?

George Barna asks people how they think about God and the church. In a book called Churchless he points out that when the church is faithful to its calling, people find God in all sorts of ways. They find God in relationships with other people and in doing good things together, in worship that shifts their focus from self-absorption to the source of all joy, in deeper wisdom about themselves and the world, and in a rare and beautiful unity in an otherwise fractious and conflicted culture.

Churches are made up of people, so of course they share all the foibles of human nature, like every other group of human beings. But still, God works in and through us, and for many of us there really is no better place to find the life-giving power, presence, and peace of God.

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