The only accounts I know of my father’s father are ones filled with remorse, regret and desolation. Witnesses told my dad that my dark-eyed grandpa had been brought up in a strict, religious household. Grandpa had been raised by his Bible thumping father, a man who had ordered the fire and brimstone for family dinner without so much as a side of grace. They told my father that this religious upbringing is what had ruined my grandpa and send him spiraling towards the throes of bitterness and hatred.
As a result of my great-great grandfather’s approach my grandpa turned away from any kind of organized religion and ran straight into the welcoming arms of a non judgemental addiction, alcohol. Drink after drink slipped past his parched lips. The decisions he made while in an intoxicated state were ones that left my own father’s childhood littered with verbal, physical, sexual and emotional abuse. I am certain that remnants of this abuse would remain in our family to this day had my parents not taken a step towards welcoming the real God back into our family, the God who forgave my mother for her painful mistakes, the One who pardoned my father, the One who has protected and kept watch over me even in the midst of extreme trial. The One who I feel holding my hand and guiding my life to this day.
The tainted history of my family and my own life story may work to explain why the following topic pains my heart in such great ways and perplexes me to no conceivable measure.
In conversation and observation, I have noticed some prevalent themes as to why people do not believe in the God of the Bible. Their arguments have come to me as relevant and intriguing yet heart wrenching and convicting all in one twisting slap. It breaks me see how many have not experienced a personal relationship with Christ, Elohim, the God of the Bible. Depending on the person, I have seen this lack of experience originate and morph from past experiences, doubts and or disputes with Christians, those called to be like Christ. I am writing this post in response to the most common, convincing reasons I have heard from people who do not believe there is a God. My purpose in this post in to gently lead people into reconsidering what they have grown to believe as it is based solely on their experience. I do not discredit experience but ask you, as I have, to look beyond what you have known and dig deeper into the life of Christ and the incredible Father God of the Bible claims to be.
- There is way too much pain in the world and in my life to merit the existence of all powerful, all loving being.
I have two words I would like to lay before you: love and choice. I argue that these small words are synonymous. God did not make us robots. There is no way for a robot to love. He is programmed to do what he ought to and he does it. There is no choice there and with a lack of choice comes no ability to love.
Here’s the real deal: this world is messed up because there is an enemy who hates God and hates those who have been made in God’s image, the pinnacle of this beautiful creation, us. He will do anything to bring disease and destroy the perfection that God has crafted. In moving to a more surface level, one wouldn’t be incorrect if they said, “a lot of the world (not all but a lot) is messed up because of our own choices.”
Picture this scenario (it actually happened to me in the first grade…how embarrassing): a parent warns their child not to engage in horseplay around puddles of water and Lord knows what else. “You will slip and fall.” They say. Despite the warning, this child decides to jump around them anyway. Within minutes, the child (me) is sitting in a puddle, drenching in nothing less than embarrassment and tears. Whose fault was it that the child slipped and fell?
Sure, the parent could have picked their child up and dragged them away from the puddles but would that have provided a learning experience? Would that interaction have proven to the child that they have the choice to make a good or a bad choice? Nope. I guarantee that it wouldn’t have and ultimately, if that child’s choices were constantly dictated for them by a well-meaning parent those choices would come to not mean much to that child.
I’m not hear to discuss parenting styles… all I know is that this little mishap was a big deal to me. I remember the lesson it taught me, to this day (because it’s important, for social sobriety as an adult, to refrain from jumping around in rain puddles… or is it?). Anyway…
Here’s the conclusion to common argument and question. God does not cause pain, nor does He delight in pain. He does allow us to make choices because He is a God who provides choices to His children. His decision to give us choice comes from His love nature. He is not controlling or selfish. He is not jealous or rude. He always hopes, always trusts and always perseveres. Love, God, never fails.
- There’s no proof for a God. Aka: I’ve never heard from Him…therefore there is no proof for a God.
I could spend ions of time on this particular thought and argument but have chosen not to do so because I believe the answer can be simplified and condensed. When someone tells me that they have never experienced God and that their lack of experience has led them to believe that there is no God I ask them this simple question: have you sought Him with your whole heart, meaning with a desire to actually find Him? After I asked that question some have told me they try once then give up when they don’t feel Him or find anything worth continuing on with. Others tell me that they haven’t but they have seen the way Christians act and don’t want to turn out like them.
Forgive the French and if this comes across as insensitive but this response is kind of ridiculous. The people I was talking to were giving up WAY to easily on the most important relationship they will ever have in their life. It is important to pursue those we want to get to know. That’s how my friendships work; that’s how a relationship with God works too.
You may be wondering, “if God’s so great why is He is so hard to get a hold of”. I say, “who are we to determine how the Creator of everything acts?”
What we do know about God’s character is that He desires for us to pursue Him in relationship. He wants to know that you find Him worth pursuing. He, like an incredibly kind gentleman, waits. He waits for us to initiate because… do you remember that choice thing I was talking about earlier? Yeah, He waits because of love, because of choice. He wants us to make the choice to pursue Him and is kind enough to send reminders from time to time. Consider this blog a little reminder from the God whose love for you stretches across the ocean, beyond and into immeasurable distance.
- The indecisive, destructive, divided church is proof enough that no God exists. Even if He did I would want absolutely no part in a God whose representatives are…like that.
Every time I hear this comment it breaks my heart and draws me into a reality I would much rather turn a blind eye to and avoid. But I can’t. The fact that people have seen this in the church sickens and yes, surprises me.
I was recently on Facebook, caught up in a slew of comments below a Relevant magazine posting. The things that Christians were saying to other Christians was juvenile, offensive and heartbreaking. I couldn’t help but ask myself, “Is this really what the world sees?”
Unfortunately, it often is.
In light of this I ask that you would PLEASE accept my apology for the many years of messed up, brokenness that the church has brought upon this world. (I am aware that it may not take away any remorse or pain caused but I think it’s about time to ask for forgiveness anyway). I acknowledge the awful effects religion has brought to countless indigenous people all across the nation, as well as those who grew up in strict, rigid households that were run by pharisaical law and not grace. Trust me, I have conversations about this with my father. I have seen bits and pieces of this sickeningly stringent religiosity try to creep into my family as well…
At the same time, I would like you to keep in mind that those who are loud, outspoken and obnoxious garner a lot more attention than those who are, just like Jesus, quietly serving and loving all those they come into contact with. Contrary to popular belief, and no please don’t assume I am not justifying the actions of Christians in fault, not all Christians are haters and religious wingnuts (none should be but, as we are SO human, many veer)…
If you were to meet a person who was genuinely following Jesus, and was not a nominal Christian, you would see someone filled with the love of God and convinced/enamoured by their relationship with Him.
By that, I mean this: you would witness someone who would, without hesitation, sacrifice their life for someone they just met (this can be physically, mentally or emotionally). You would encounter someone you would want to be around more often than not. You would see someone who does not sway from Godly convictions to please the world around them. You would talk to someone who exuded grace and stayed in communication with their Heavenly Father about everything because that is what Jesus is like.
Every day I, the imperfect made perfect by God’s grace, kneel before the Lord and ask Him to shape me to be more like Him. Bit by bit, piece by piece He has been gently molding me to represent His grand image. Even though I falter and fall. Even though malicious words slip and integrity falters I am still loved and I am still convinced that there is a God who holds me as the apple of His eye, no matter what and I want the same for you.
Please take time to consider what I have written and time to reconsider your previous notions about the God who loves you more than life itself. I (without any agenda of any kind except to want to see know that you loved fully and completely by someone most unexpected) assure you, it will be the most important thing that you ever do.