8/14/17 Jesse about 30
There are other ways to attempt to avoid God besides atheism. Jesse, about 30, believes that God exists but is so distant that He is uninvolved with life here on Earth.
I met Jesse on the sidewalk, asking about his beliefs in the afterlife. He wasn’t aware of what is widely known as the “clockmaker theory”, but described it almost perfectly. He basically believes that God put everything in motion here on Earth, but has long since stepped back to watch what happens from a distance.
I asked Jesse why he believes this and he told me he didn’t see how God could be present and allow all the pain and suffering that goes on in the world. Nonetheless, he says he knows there is a God because there is no other logical way to explain all that exists.
I told him about the “problem of evil”. This is the idea that a good and all-powerful God can’t exist because, with all the suffering in the world, if God is good but can’t stop evil then he isn’t all-powerful, and if He is all-powerful but doesn’t stop it, then He is not good.
Jesse’s take on all this is to say that God is distant and unaware of the details of evil in life. But if God is distant, then surely he is also unaware of the relatively small evils in our own lives. It’s a fancy way of rationalizing our everyday sinful actions and attitudes. It says “I’m a pretty good person, and as long as I don’t commit any of those larger, cardinal sins, I’m all good with God.”
Do we really want to believe God is distant? The Bible gives us a great promise in Psalm 145: “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” But this promise can be a double-edged sword. The same God who can hear us when we call on Him, is also aware when we turn from him to sin.
Life seems good right now to Jesse. He has all he needs so it seems good to him to hold God at a distance with his chosen beliefs. But regardless of his personal beliefs, the Bible repeatedly lets us know that the Lord is near. “The Lord watches over all who love him” it goes on to say in Psalm 145. But we can’t afford to stop reading there: “…but all the wicked he will destroy.”
How about you? Do you try to hold God at a distance, rationalizing Him away with self-made beliefs that reassure you that He is only there when you need Him? Or will you relate to God on His terms, as He chooses to reveal himself in His holy word? At the end of the day the choice really isn’t yours to make.