Monday, October 17, 2016

Where is God when life hurts? .......... Parables 498

January 2, 1996

A teenage girl is beaten by her dad and screams, “There is no God.” A purse snatcher robs a senior of her savings and she sobs, “There is no God.” A man befriends a young couple, convinces them to invest in his company, then disappears with their funds. They cling to each other and cry out there is no God.

Sometimes unthinking Christians respond to these tragedies with a line from Scripture that declares, “Only a fool says in his heart there is no God.” We don’t know what is in their heart. Perhaps a kinder and wiser option is speaking and living in a way that demonstrates to them that there is indeed a God.

People can do it. According to Genesis, God created us in His own image. In some ways we are like God. We are not reflections of His physical likeness (He is spirit) and we cannot be everywhere at once nor do all things. We are like Him in our creativity, emotions, capacity to think, to love and to make decisions. Also, He intended we reflect something of His wisdom, goodness and generosity. He created us so we would magnify His glory.

It is not that people are blind to God’s glory from other revelations. The psalmist says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” Nature reveals God’s power and creativity. If cats and dogs and grass and thunderstorms can declare the glory of God, why can’t humans?

God also revealed Himself to the prophets of old. They recorded in books what He showed and told them — compiled into what we call the Bible. Scripture is a written record of everything God has revealed about Himself. Reading its pages with an open mind opens our eyes to the truth of Who He is. If we can see God in a book, why can’t we see Him in each other?

The point is, whether people believe in God or not, all are image-bearers — but not all are doing the job. The mirror is dirty. God’s image is muddied by abuse, greed, power trips, stealing, extortion, adultery, gossip, hatred, murder, jealousy and selfishness. When we look at the downside of humanity, we are almost justified in saying, “There is no God.”

Even if we take an honest look at the positive or good things people do, we have to admit the goodness in people points to a higher good. Yet we fail there too. We prefer to give ourselves credit for our goodness. In doing so, we contribute to the notion that there is no God.

With all those ways we mar the image of God, I am glad God gave a greater revelation of Himself: “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son... the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being....”

The Lord Jesus Christ is God’s perfect revelation of His love and holiness. As He said, “He who sees me sees the Father.” Yet take note, God chose to reveal Himself in a human being. Jesus needed sleep, food and drink and was tempted by sin just as we are. He had all the limitations of being human but was different in that He did not sin. He proved that sin is not essential to being human because it was in being human that Jesus accomplished what we fail to do. He perfectly reflected the image of God.

Through this remarkable God-man, we are offered forgiveness and cleansing of our sin. He can polish our mirror and restore the image of God in us.

Everyone, including people who suffer and those who torment them, need to see that God indeed exists. The compelling evidence may not be a lecture, sermon or thunderstorm. They might see Him in someone who thinks, talks, and acts like Jesus.

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