Summary: how does one relate to God who seems to be out of reach and invisible

The Problem of an Invisible God.

Psalm 84:2, 1 Jn.1:1-4.

Many Christians claim a personal relationship with an always present God. But there is a problem how can you get personal with someone you cannot see?

I suspect many of you are here today because you do want a relationship with God. You want God to be real. You want God to show up. You want to God to make a difference. You want to feel and touch God.

You wonder if all this Christianity stuff that seems to work for someone else could work for you.

There are people who have struggled to know God, and gave up. In the book Disappointment with God, Yancey, told the story of Richard who struggled to know God, he prayed through the night and basically asked God to show up “Finally at 4 o’clock in the morning, I came to my senses. Nothing has happened. God had not responded. Why continue torturing myself? Why not just forget God and get on with life, like most of the rest of the world?” “I had been honest with myself. Any pretense was gone, and I no longer felt the pressure to believe what I could never be sure of. I felt converted - but converted from God.”

Are you sensing like Richard, you too may be coming to a place where you got to make a choice and stop self-torture.

Some years ago Dr. J.I. Packer wrote Knowing God. Basically a book on theology. But sold like hot cakes, like life insurance on a sinking ship. Sales surprising as did not contain dramatic testimony, personal stories, theology re: attributes of God. But why then sold so well?

One writer, Tim Stafford, theorized:

“My theory is that the title and introduction sold the book. A vast unfed hunger hides just below the surface of our churchly activities, a hunger to know God intimately and personally.”

It would seem like if Stafford is right, people, includes Christian people are hungering for God.

One wise man observed about God’s design in people in Ecclesiastes 3:11 “…He has also set eternity in the hearts of men…” i.e. something eternal that is in people, and only something eternal can fill, or else it is a big hole in the heart

1. What causes believers dismay?

Believers down the centuries experienced this hunger. More than likely exp. It this way: frustration

Ps.84:2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the

living God.

Here’s a believer writing about his experience. Sense his hunger… My heart and my flesh… sense his need to experience God deeply, my soul yearns….

2 Cor.5:2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling

Sense his longing, sense the groaning… i.e. unfulfilled… in pain

Here’s another believer struggling to make sense of pain

Ps.42:2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

sense the thirst and frustration asks when?

Frustration speaks of the human struggle to know God

Ps.89:46 How long O LORD? Will you hide yourself forever?

The cry is heard and down thru’ the ages… people are still asking… show Thyself Lord… and The command to pray without ceasing seems to be an exercise doomed to failure.

The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God.

1 Cor.8:2-3

I like what Stafford said in light of Scripture “Prideful certainty, in fact, is a certain sign of knowledge gone astray… His knowledge of me, not mine of him, is the crucial certainty” (Stafford,1986,p.12).

No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it.

Ecclesiastes 9:5

Tim Stafford: “The Bible does not hint that our intimacy with can be satisfied through prayer or through ecstatic worship experiences or through the Bible or through spiritual gifts or through miracles or through an attitude of faith.”

Some satisfaction may come and is not to be sneezed at.

Moses who wanted to be see God, experience Him up close and personal, could only see the back of God, not face to face encounter, Paul admitted even He saw but a poor reflection, like through a glass darkly.

So what is God’s response to this universal cry of frustration for God to show up.

Ps.42:2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

The Christmas story.

The Bible tells us about an invisible God “that which was from the beginning” so says John, who is revealed to us . Not out of some mystical mountain experience with a guru or from meditating under a tree, or from UFOs, plates with divine writing, but in real flesh and blood -“which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes and our hands have touched”. God showed up... taking on a human body as his own. Approachable, touchable, Christianity’s main symbol, the cross, is earthy and its vision based on a God who with his fleshly arms splayed outward, eyes in agony. Here is a God with a face. Here is Jesus. But How can that be God?

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Brent Sorlien

commented on Nov 30, 2006

Very thoughtful message!

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