A fellow by the name of David Kupelian has an interesting sermon posted over at WorldNetDaily. It opens with a couple of excellent questions.
If God is everywhere, why do so few people seem to be able to find Him?
By “find Him,” I don’t mean just clinging to a vague notion that God exists, but rather, experiencing an intimate, moment-to-moment flow of understanding, guidance, and the special energy called “grace,” coming directly from Him to us.
After all, not only is God omnipresent, but we’re told His greatest desire is to have a personal relationship with each of us, whom He created in His image – to direct our paths and become our ultimate destiny. In other words, to be our God.
Why then are so many of us so lost?
Why indeed? Assuming that any of us even are “lost,” of course. Kupelian has hit on the key contradiction of the Christian gospel. If God’s “greatest desire” is to have a personal relationship with each of us, and to lead us, and to guide us, then why doesn’t He show up do take part in any of that?
Of course, Kupelian doesn’t quite approach it from that perspective (even though God is really the only one who could effectively do anything about the problem). But he does highlight some of the practical consequences of God’s absence.
First, let’s acknowledge a painful truth: Though four out of five Americans today call themselves Christians, most don’t have a clue about what it means to follow Christ.
Painful but predictable. If Jesus does not show up to lead his disciples, then of course they’re going to find it difficult to “follow” him.
To illustrate, only 9 percent of those self-identifying as “born-again Christians” even hold a biblical worldview, according to respected Christian pollster George Barna, whose organization has been tracking believers for over two decades. Almost half of “born-agains” – 45 percent – teach their children there are no absolute values.
“You might expect that parents who are born-again Christians would take a different approach to raising their children than did parents who have not committed their life to Christ, but that was rarely the case,” Barna said.
Again, predictable. Christians have to live in the real world, just like everyone else. Unfortunately, because they are Christian, born-again parents have to turn to moral guidance to pastors and teachers who keep on trying to link morality to a God who never actually shows up in real life, either to teach us moral precepts, or to give us any guidance in applying those precepts to real-life situations, or to rebuke and correct those who fail to apply them correctly. So born-again parents can’t get any practical moral guidance from God, and the guidance they get from men is couched in stories that are inconsistent with what they find in real life, and they are effectively discouraged from turning to secular authorities for moral guidance. It’s not surprising, then, that they’d be distressingly short on moral values.
In fact, reported the pollster: “For years we have reported research findings showing that born-again adults think and behave very much like everyone else. It often seems that their faith makes very little difference in their life.”
Which brings us to painful truth No. 2: Our churches obviously aren’t doing a great job of shepherding a righteous nation.
In other words, Kupelian blames men for the consequences of God’s failure to show up and participate in that personal, living, two-way interaction that He allegedly wants bad enough to die for. We have all these predictable and even inevitable results of God’s failure to show up, and Kupelian’s answer is that men have failed. But why should it be men’s responsibility to make up for God’s failure to behave as though the gospel were true?
Obviously, Kupelian didn’t mention these things just to complain, and he tries to come up with a remedy for these problems. It’s certainly a game effort; he goes on for paragraph after endless paragraph, in a long list of things that men ought to be doing to build up their own faith in the face of God’s universal and continuous absence. It’s all things that people have recommended before, and have been recommending for a couple thousand years.
He quotes from William Penn’s mysticism, and from the writings of 16th and 17th century priests, and of course the New Testament—things, in other words that men have been trying to use for centuries to manufacture some sense of God’s presence despite His absence. The trouble is, these techniques (besides being man-centered) are what have brought us to where we are today. If they really worked, the Christian Church wouldn’t be having all the painful problems Kupelian complains about.
The root of these problems, of course, is the fact that God consistently and universally fails to show up in the real world. He fails to behave as though He believed what the Gospel claims about Him and about His desire to participate in a personal relationship with each of us. And it’s consistent, predictable, reliable. God never does anything more than what an imaginary friend could accomplish–taking credit for the natural outcomes of natural events.
The problem isn’t that men aren’t doing enough to manufacture their own faith in God. The problem is that their faith lacks a real-world object.