We’re always broken hearted when interaction with non-believers circle back to the issue of God giving evidence of Himself.
Like the presumptive “If God was so-and-so He wouldn’t let X-Y-Z happen.” Or the challenge taking scripture out of context – ignorantly and incorrectly – to “prove” that faith is useless. We were recently scolded that because believers can’t “Heal” everyone, faith is delusional. We can’t even heal ourselves!
“Broken hearted” may not be the right term. The sense is one of grief. Loss.
God shows himself to everyone. Not everyone is looking. Fewer listen.
Part of the issue is a natural tendency to self-protection, self-sufficiency and self-satisfaction. We’re born this way. If I don’t get what I want, I’ll either become bitter and pout, perhaps descend into envy and hate or I’ll go after it another way. Our culture teaches that failure is just one rung on a ladder leading to success. The lesson is about achievement, overcoming and self-actualization.
Half of Psychiatry in a nutshell – is that everyone has goodness in them. The dialogue that occurs among Philosophers about where morals come from is worth a look. But that’s not the point here. Where does “Goodness” come from is a downstream consequence of something more important. (The other “half of Psychiatry” – for the record – goes something like this “It’s not your fault.” But that’s for another post.)
“The acceptance of oneself is the essence of the whole moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook on life. That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ — all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least among them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all the offenders, the very enemy himself — that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness — that I myself am the enemy who must be loved — what then? As a rule, the Christian’s attitude is then reversed; there is no longer any question of love or long-suffering; we say to the brother within us “Raca,” and condemn and rage against ourselves. We hide it from the world; we refuse to admit ever having met this least among the lowly in ourselves.” Karl Jung.
I happen to agree that Christians are far too attracted to self-flagellation. We indulge this despite many indications that we’re covered. We know that all condemnation ceases upon receiving Christ. It just takes a long time for the thought to reach our hearts.
Jung’s point is oriented toward self-forgiveness. Yes. This must happen. Or we’ll always be just a few steps away from being crazy. The point is: I’m not perfect, and I’m never going to be perfect.”
Jess Lair a “Self-Help” author in the 1970’s said it thus:
“What are some of the discoveries I have made? I found I needed people because I needed the love they could give me. I found that love was something I did. I found that the way I showed people my need and love for them was to tell how it was with me in my deepest heart. I came to feel that was the most loving thing I could do for anyone — tell them how it was with me and share my imperfections with them. When I did this, most people came back at me with what was deep within them. This was love coming to me. And the more I had coming to me, the more I had to give away. I ain’t much, baby — but I’m all I’ve got.“
The greater question has to do with the very nature of creation itself. For instance: Why love?
“People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy…” 2 Tim 3:2
Self-Love? Does this leave room for anyone else?
Do we experience our awareness in isolation, randomly? Or not? This “Existential Question” has been around for millennia. Answers to the precursor question (about morals) will be influenced by one’s perception of existence. Is existence “actual” (I am among others like me) or “imagined”? (There is nobody like me.) Morals presume life is something actual, that life matters. Like love. Between God and people and person to person.
“Cogito, ergo: Sum.” Descartes summarized it thus. “I think, therefore I am.”
To many “educated” readers the previous discussion might seem academic in an offensive, undergraduate manner.
But here’s the practical issue for the rest of us:
I am definitely aware. What now? God says “Come let us reason together…” Is. 1:18
This isn’t God saying that He wants a debate with an equal. As if something I might assert would change God’s mind. The foundational issue is that He’s wants dialogue. Creator in dialogue with the created. A father in dialogue with his begotten. A good father always tells his children the truth. A good father will always love his children, even when they rebel and don’t listen.
A good father tells his kids, don’t play in the street because cars kill. Do I believe him or go and seek evidence he’s telling the truth? A good father loves his children, is that reason enough to trust him?
We will naturally want to compare notes with others who are talking to God. David’s very first thought in his Psalms advises:
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers…” Ps. 1:1
Mathew Henry, in his commentary writes concerning the first few Psalms (1-3).
To meditate in God’s word, is to discourse with ourselves concerning the great things contained in it…
So, what about “Evidence” of the truth? “What is truth?” mocked Pilate answering Jesus:
“In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Jesus in John 18:38.
If truth is important, people will hear God. It starts with creation. It ends with us. What more evidence is required? If I am convinced I exist, then there are consequences. Morals count.
The converse is truly distressing. If truth isn’t what I seek, then no amount of evidence will be sufficient. If I imagine I exist, then there are no consequences. I can invent my own morals.
The Pharisees (The equivalent of the most educated in our time) rejected Christ. Jesus said to them:
“Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” John 10:37-38
No amount of evidence is sufficient. Are we “hearing” this? The Pharisees asked Jesus plainly about the truth.
“I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:25-27
Belief. Jesus told “Doubting” Thomas:
“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John:20:29