Summary: This sermon is the first in a series dealing with tough questions. This one deals with God’s existence and whether or not He cares about our lives.
March 7, 2004 Hebrews 11:1,6
“God, are you there?”
Two young brothers had terrorized their neighborhood with their pranks and thefts. The parents didn’t know what to do. They finally decided to bring the boys to their pastor, one at a time, and see if he could help straighten them out.
The younger brother, Billy, arrived and was ushered into the church office where he was offered a very large chair in front of the desk. The minister then sat down opposite the lad. He folded his hands in front of him and stared at the boy a few seconds then said, “Where is God?” Billy wasn’t sure what the question meant, so he just sat there quietly. The minister leaned over his desk, locked eyes and said in a much stronger voice, “Where…is…God?” Billy started to squirm. He had no idea why he was here and the minister kept asking the same question. The poor boy was really getting scared and snuggled back into the full chair. The minister, meanwhile, moved from behind his desk to stand directly in front of Billy and raised one hand upward to Heaven. “WHERE…IS…GOD?” he bellowed at the lad.
Poor Billy lost it. What could he do? Here was a man of God asking questions he didn’t understand and he was scared. So he jumped up out of the chair, ran from the office, down the church aisle, out onto the sidewalk, up the street into his house. Then he raced up the stairs and into his bedroom. “What’s wrong Billy?” his brother asked. “Oh, Johnny,” he said. “We’re in BIG trouble this time. God’s missing and they think we took Him.”
Was Billy right? Is God missing? Just watching the evening news any day of the week and seeing what is happening in the world can make a person question whether or not God is there any more or even if He was ever there to begin with. For some of you, you don’t need the evening news to prompt questions about God’s existence. You’ve got plenty of pain in your own life to cause you to shout, “God, are you there?”
Over the next six weeks, we are going to ask and do our best to answer some controversial and potentially life-altering questions – questions about the existence of God, the reliability of the Bible and the goodness of God in a world where there is suffering and evil. To some of you, these questions may seem unnecessary since you already believe that God exists and that the Bible is true. But we have a responsibility to be prepared to answer the questions that other people bring to us (1 Peter 3:15), and we also need to know why we believe what we believe. To others of you here, these are questions that you have been wrestling with. You want to know the truth, but you’re just not sure what the truth is. Christians tell you that you should believe in God and accept the Bible as truth, but you need reasons to believe. After all, “it is possible for any of us to believe error; it is also possible for us to resist truth.” – p. 5
Whenever there are conflicting stories about what the truth is, the people involved will often go to court to try and discover the truth. Such is the case with Martha Stewart, Kobe Bryant and Scott Peterson. My task over the next six weeks will be the same as the task of the lawyers in each of those cases – to bring witnesses to the stand so that they can present evidence concerning the truth of our claims. “[I] believe there are satisfying, reasonable answers to the hard questions about which we all wonder”, and I will do my best to present those answers. (p. 7) “...your task will be [that of the jury -] to weigh the evidence so you can begin to draw a more informed conclusion...” As much as is possible, I am asking that you come into this courtroom without having already made up your minds so that you can judge the evidence fairly.