Conservative pundit Matt Walsh addressed an important question in a recent vlog post: Why does it appear that God is invisible? Why does He hide from us?
Right now we live in a time where there is so much suffering, misery and pain, and so many people struggling, it might seem easy to look around and "wonder why God doesn't just come out of the shadows and display His glory – even if just for one second," Matt notes.
"It is easy to use God's hiddenness, His invisibility, as an argument against His existence. It is not a bad argument, either. Indeed, it would seem that a loving and all-powerful God would manifest Himself clearly to His creation, especially when He notices that secularism is infecting the whole world like a virus."
Matt points out that many Christians would argue that God isn't hidden, at least not in the way and to the extent that atheists would claim. He reveals Himself daily through the beauty and intricacy of His creation and, historically, He revealed Himself completely in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
"And since that time, and before it, He has performed many other signs, and appeared in visions, and shown His power and glory through miraculous healings and other supernatural deeds.
"And if you disregard those instances," Matt argues, "then you must admit that you are choosing to disbelieve, not in a hidden God, but in a God who has revealed Himself countless times to the human race."
But then atheists might counter: "OK, if God exists and if He is willing to reveal Himself, why does He do it to such a small number of people? Why not cut out the guess work entirely? He could make Himself unavoidably, unmistakably, incontrovertibly evident to everyone on Earth.
"He could appear in the sky, manifesting Himself in His glory, and make an announcement: 'Hello, everyone. I am God. I exist. This is the meaning of life. This is how you should live.' Or words to that effect. That, I imagine, would convince most people," Matt admits. "It would convince more than are convinced by a 2,000 year old anthology of stories and letters, at least.
"But the fact is that God doesn't. He has chosen to reveal Himself in a way that still allows us to ignore Him and/or deny His existence."
Matt says God doesn't force us to believe, because God doesn't just want our obedience and belief - He wants our love. He wants us to love Him and desire Him alone.
"If all He wanted was belief, then indeed the celestial public service announcement would seem the way to go," he explains. "However our hope, salvation, and joy is found not in belief per se, but in love. He wants us to love Him, and there is no sign, no spectacle or miracle that could make us love Him. It could make us fear Him, admire Him, even obey and worship Him, but a vision of His glory in the Heavens would not, for most of us, engender love. I think it would actually prevent love from forming."
Matt offers the analogy of human love – it has to be choice otherwise it is not love. It cannot be compelled. You can't be forced to love.
Matt argues, "If God were to give us the blessed vision we claim to want, we would be so overwhelmed by His beauty, so taken by His majesty, so terrified by His power, so aghast and awestruck. We would be simply swept away by God's sheer magnitude. We would fall before Him. Whimper. Tremble. Cry. Beg. But love? How could you possibly love Him then?
"Unless, of course, they have already loved Him. The only ones who can love God upon seeing Him are those who loved Him without seeing Him. I think that is a simple fact of His nature and ours. We fallen creatures, need a certain distance from God in order to be able to love Him. We need space to make that choice.
"The reason God does not show Himself to us is that He does not want me to be a cowering, stupefied child who worships and obeys simply because I am afraid and emotionally overwhelmed.
"And so I can only thank God for the distance, the hiddenness, as painful as it may be," Matt says.
He adds that one day we WILL all see God in His glory, as He truly is, and we will all believe and all worship. But only those who have entered that encounter already having chosen to love Him, will love Him then and be eternally loved by Him.
"So God keeps us here in this reality," Matt concludes. "And calls us home when He knows we are ready. When our love has grown as much as it is going to grow and we are ready for the next stage. Or, alternatively, when He knows that we will never be ready, and love will never grow. That our cause is hopeless. In which case, we're finished.
"But either way, we have the chance now because of that distance and because of that separation to love Him. And we have to make that choice. And it seems to me that God reveals Himself as much as He possibly can, while still giving us the opportunity to truly love."•