If you’re like me, you may occasionally wonder why God is so subtle. After all, we can’t see God, hear God, or feel Him with our sense of touch. And of course, those are the primary ways we gather information about, and interact with, our environment. Because of this, our friends who don’t believe in God often mock us and claim we worship an imaginary guy in the sky.
Don’t you sometimes wish God would take the mystery out of it and suddenly appear in all His supernatural glory, and declare in a booming voice for all to hear, “I am the eternal Creator! Why do you doubt me?!”
Yeah, that certainly would be cool. Those of us who go to church on a regular basis finally would be able to say, “See? Told ya God is real!”
But would that really be so cool? If God did suddenly appear in some kind of blazing, miraculous apparition that filled the skies with flashing lights and a resounding voice, how many non-believers would accept it? I suspect many would say it was some kind of freak weather event. (“See? Climate change is getting worse and worse!”) Others might accuse the military of unleashing a new weapon system that was developed in secrecy. (“See? I knew the Pentagon was up to no good!”)
So, many non-believers still may refuse to believe in God, even if He plainly revealed Himself to the world in a manner we could perceive with our sight, hearing, and sense of touch.
But let’s say God did reveal Himself to everyone in such a way that all doubt was removed. Let’s say everyone, even the most avowed atheist, was so overwhelmed by the blazing manifestation of God that there was no choice but to accept the fact that He is real. That would be great, wouldn’t it? No more doubters. No more unbelievers. Every single person on planet earth would know for certain that God is real. Great!
But would it really be so great? What is the one thing missing from this scenario? The one thing missing is faith. If God revealed Himself to everyone in such spectacular and obvious fashion that all doubt was removed, then our acceptance of His existence would be like accepting that the sun rises in the east each morning. There would be no faith or trust or relationship involved. It simply would be a known fact.
The main reason God created us is to be in a loving relationship with Him. But for love to be genuine, there has to be the freedom to choose to love someone or to walk away. If we’re forced to embrace someone against our will, it’s not love at all.
If God’s existence was so obvious that no one could doubt it, would people have loving relationships with Him? I don’t think so. Many would consider their relationship with God in the same way a slave relates to the master, or as a Marine recruit relates to the drill sergeant, or as a loading dock employee relates to the company CEO. In other words, the relationship would be based on the coercive difference in power, and a lot of folks surely would come to resent God.
That’s why God has to be subtle. He is real, and He is our Creator, but He doesn’t show off about it. He wants us to trust in what is unseen and to hope that it is true — the exact biblical definition of faith.
Only when we have the freedom to say “no” to God will our “yes” to Him be the basis for a loving relationship. But if you’re like me, you have to admit that once in a while you’d love to see a blazing, miraculous apparition fill the skies, just to freak out some unbelieving friends.