We must begin to talk about God. Which is like saying that we must learn to stare at the sun, (1).
I have heard several “atheists” share how they just can’t bring themselves to believe in God. One of the common objections that runs through all of these conversations goes something like this: “I just can’t believe in this fairy-tale, man in outer-space guiding everything that I do, religion. I think it’s ridiculous.” I find it interesting how they often try to dumb down religion with their word usage. Maybe we, believers, do a little bit of the same thing at times. But, why do we have problem with our story resembling that of a fairy-tale, or a story. Maybe the reason we are a species that love fairy-tales, and always have, is because our origin resembles a fairy-tale more than the what skeptical, post-enlightenment-life is a cosmic accident, society continually tries to sell us.
I would suggest most of these “secular skeptics” are intimidated by the complexity of the concept of God. They don’t like the idea that their life doesn’t begin and end with them. They just can’t believe a loving God is in control when so much of the world seems out of control. Maybe they have given up trying to explore the concept of Higher Intelligence because the attempt of trying to understand an infinite God is like trying to stare at the sun.
In the first chapter of Romans Paul touches on this issue. He basically says that people who say they’re is no God, deep down, know that this isn’t true. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse, (Romans 1:19–20). According to Romans, God is constantly revealing Himself to us through nature, through our fascination with sunsets and mountain peaks, through our tractor beam (for the Star War fans out there) type migration toward narratives. We’re like characters in a book that have forgotten who created us. But, If we listen to stories, tell stories, are fascinated by stories, live our lives as stories. Why do we have such a problem with believing we are a part of a bigger story? Maybe we just don’t like the idea that we are not the author of our own lives. We get frusted because trying to understand God is like staring at the sun…it’s impossible. As N.T. Wright says in his book Simply Christian, It’s easier, actually, to look away from the sun itself and to enjoy the fact that, once it’s well and truly risen, you can see everything else clearly,(2). Therefore it’s much easier to look away from the subject of God, because to talk about God is like saying that we must learn to stare at the sun.
In 1961 Yuri Gagarin, the first Soviet cosmonaut, landed after orbiting the earth a few times, he declared that he had disproved the existence of God. He had been up there, he said, and had seen no sign of him. Not very good logic, yet it is the logic that many of the “atheists” I have met subscribe to. C. S. Lewis wrote about this in “The Seeing Eye.” In it he argued that if there were a God we would not relate to him the way a person on the first story of a house relates to a person on the second story. The ground-floor resident can go up the steps to find the second-floor resident. But God is not someone who merely lives in the sky—he is the creator of the whole universe, earth and sky and time and space, and of us. Our relationship to God, then, is more like Shakespeare’s relationship to Hamlet. How much will Hamlet know about Shakespeare? Only what Shakespeare writes. (3).
We are characters in a much bigger story than we often realize. But as character in a story that we did not create. We cannot understand everything about the story except for what the author chooses to reveal. We cannot understand God except what He chooses to let us understand. God says, My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, (Isaiah 55:8). On the mountain God said to Moses you cannot see my face and live, (Exodus 33:20). So how can we know there is a God if we can’t see Him and live? How can we understand God if He said we cannot understand Him? How can we know Him? If we’re characters in a much bigger story how can we ever understand our creator. The only possible way would be if the creator wrote himself into the story, (4). I guess we could change the N.T. Wright’s statement from to talk about God is like saying that we must learn to stare at the sun, to talk about God, we must learn to stare at the Son.
Only in the Christian narrative did God actually put Himself, the Author, into the story. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth, (John 1:14). Jesus said whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:9). Christ came to reveal the Father, and, for all practical purposes, those who saw Him saw the Father, (5). The only way we can come to know God is by coming to know the Son, because any other way is like trying to stare into the sun. The reason we listen to stories, tell stories, are fascinated by stories, live our lives as stories, is because we are a part of a bigger story? It seems our heart knows something our brain often tries to forget. Our story does not begin and end with us. The good news is that even though we can’t put God in a corner, pin him down, and force him to submit to human inspection. It is part of the Christian story that there was a moment when God was indeed pinned down, subjected not just to human inspection but to trial, torture, imprisonment, and death, (6). If you want to understand the narrative of your life, rather than trying to stare at the sun, stare at the Son.
Copyright 2013 Richie Halversen
1. N. T. Wright. “Simply Christian.” HarperCollins
3. Keller, Timothy. “The Grieving Sisters.” Penguin Group
5. The SDA Bible Commentary, Volume 5. 1980 (F. D. Nichol, Ed.) (905). Review and Herald Publishing Association.
6. N. T. Wright. “Simply Christian.” HarperCollins