Dead-End Thoughts about God
by Greg Koukl
Most speculations about God lead to a dead-end. Here’s what I mean.
Imagine a lonely young man who sits by himself every night and wonders, “Does anyone love me?” He takes comfort in the hope that somewhere there’s a young lady who cares. She hasn’t spoken to him or made her affections known, but he’s sure she exists.
“She’s probably brunette” he muses, “maybe quiet like me, gentle and uncritical.” For years he consoles himself, developing a detailed picture of what she’s like. He’s not concerned that she’s been silent; she’s there (or so he hopes) and that’s what counts.
Our lonely friend has a problem, though. His belief can never be verified. At best, it’s an empty hope, a fairy tale; at worst a sad and pitiful delusion. And in the long run it does him no good. His mystery lover can do nothing for him. He’s at a dead end.
Man, left entirely to his own devices, can speculate about God. He can invent ideas about Him. He can wish and hope and surmise. But man’s ruminations on God rarely rise above mere speculation. One man’s opinion is as good as another’s, and for the most part, just as useless. Like our lonely young man, he clings to an empty hope, a sad delusion. In the end it does him no good because his ideas can never be verified. It’s just guesswork, a dead-end.
But What If…?
But what if our friend goes to the mailbox one day and finds a letter? It’s from a girl who loves him. She’s not a shy brunette, though. She’s a redhead with fire in her blood. Though she loves him, she’s been watching him closely, and there are a few things she doesn’t care for. Can they meet?
This changes everything. It isn’t a dream or a fantasy. What he holds in his hand is concrete, something he can test, something he can act on. It’s a real letter written by a real person who has a real name. She can be known and experienced and loved. What’s more, she can love him tangibly in return.
This is the Christian message: God speaking to man. He doesn’t ask us to guess who He is and what He wants. He sends us a letter, tells us His desires, and asks, “Can we meet?”
Because God has spoken, we can know about Him. But what if we don’t like what we learn? What if He’s more than we bargained for? What if He cramps our style?
What we think we know about God must always be surrendered when God makes the effort to reveal Himself clearly. When He speaks, that’s the end of the debate.
God with a Face
This is why Jesus is so offensive. If you talk about God, everyone smiles and nods approval. The concept of God is general and benign–no real threat. But if you talk about Jesus, sparks fly. Jesus is God with a face, not the fill-in-the-blank variety we conform to our own tastes. He can’t be twisted and distorted and stuffed in our back pocket. And that bothers people.
If God is silent, it’s anyone’s game. We can speculate all we want and think what we like. But if God speaks, then our opinions don’t matter. He’s the authority on what He’s like and what He wants. We have to take Him as He is, shy brunette or fiery redhead, on His terms not ours.