Why Does God Remain Hidden from Seemingly Genuine Seekers?
by Don Johnson
The Bible indicates that everyone who seeks God finds him (Deut. 4:29; 1 Chron. 28:9; Psalm 9:10; Jer. 29:13; Matt. 7:7; Heb. 11:6, for example).
But sometimes people who seem like genuine seekers simply don’t find God. I personally know many skeptics that claim to have sought God without success, and I have no reason to doubt their sincerity or their experience. They seem open to the existence of God, but they just haven’t found him. God remains hidden. What are we to make of this?
One key to reconciling scripture with the experience of these unbelievers is to clarify what it means to seek God.
In general, when a skeptic asserts that he tried to find God but couldn’t, he means that he asked God to reveal himself in such a way that his existence would be unmistakable and God simply didn’t show up. The skeptic waited for some evidence that would be irrefutable, an experience or a piece of data that would overwhelm him, and God never came through. The specifics of this are often vague and most unbelievers I’ve talked to aren’t really sure what would suffice (Do they want the
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Mississippi to instantly dry up? An A on the test for which they didn’t study? Sky writing every day at 4:30? Well, not necessarily, but something BIG) but the overarching point is usually the same: “If God wanted me to know him, and you Christians claim he does, then he should be able to do something more than whatever it is he is doing right now. As it is, whatever evidence you claim is available can all be easily explained away.”
The problem with this approach is that sitting back and waiting for God to do something (or asking him to do something) is not seeking; it is testing. While God promises to be found by those who actually seek him, he makes no such deals with those who demand signs. Indeed, Jesus labels such people wicked and adulterous (Matt. 12:39; 16:4).
But what is the problem with testing? After all, if God wants to be known shouldn’t he respond even to tests? Isn’t it better for God to give a specific sign of his existence to someone who wants it than to let that person continue in their disbelief? Shouldn’t he just show up and overwhelm everyone with whatever it takes to prove his existence? Why is God so heartless?
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