June 17, 2020

Unless God Intervenes

Jack shuffles into the church building one day looking a little unsteady on his feet. A big, powerfully built man, he mumbles something about God and the church and slumps into a chair. After a bit of coercion, you discover that he is in his mid-30s and comes from a Catholic background. The slurring, he claims, is down to his prescribed medication, but you suspect that he is more than a little high on some form of street drug.

God: Does He Care?

It turns out that he has heard about the church from friends and wants help to get his life sorted, even though he has no idea what he means by that. With a little questioning, you discover that he is ‘religious’—in that he believes in a ‘god’ of some sort. He just doesn’t know what.

In Jack’s mind, if there is a God, then He is definitely not interested in people like him. Jack has no clue about the Bible and he thinks the church is just for old women and posh people. But he’s turned up because he’s desperate to turn things around, and this is the last resort.

Recently, his life has begun to seriously decline. One of his closest friends died of an overdose and he feels like his heroin habit is spiralling out of control. He’s beginning to wonder more about the point of life. Why are we here? What’s it all about? Is there any meaning to it all? He’s full of doubt, fear, anger, and questions.

Big Questions

Jack’s questions are the big questions of our day. Indeed, they are the big questions of the history of the human race. We all want to find meaning in our lives—whether we come to church and believe in God or not. We want our lives to mean something. We want to think there is some significance to it all. Who are we really? What are we all about?

One thing is for certain. Most of us, like Jack, would be pretty confident that the Bible and the church have got nothing much to offer when it comes to this stuff.

But Jack, like most people, would be wrong.

Wild Guesses

I play a game with my two girls every year on their birthday and at Christmas. Like all children, they absolutely adore receiving and opening presents. They are just desperate to know what presents my wife and I have bought them, and they will try any and every trick to find out ahead of time what’s inside the packaging.

Without fail, one of them will sidle up to me at some point and ask what I have bought for the other one, with the promise that, “I will keep the secret. You can trust me, dad. I won’t say anything.” I always refuse, telling them to wait, and they squeal with frustration. They want to know. They ‘need’ to know. Instead, I keep my mouth shut until the day arrives when they can find out for themselves what the gift is.

But that doesn’t stop them from trying other tactics. So, if they can’t get me to tell them, then they begin trying to guess. They shake the box and shout out hundreds of different things, hoping to pick up a clue in my reactions. Sometimes they convince themselves it is a particular thing, right up to the moment they open the present, at which point they discover something different altogether. The only way they ever have real certainty about what’s inside the wrapping paper is to tear it off and reveal what’s underneath. That’s when they finally know for sure what their gift is. Almost always, it isn’t what they thought it was going to be—and they are usually miles off the mark.

The same can be said about discovering the truth about God. Many people think they know the answers to the secrets of the universe. Many people like to make wild guesses. They come up with all sorts of weird and wonderful ideas about how the human race came into existence. Does the Vatican sit on top of a giant spacecraft? Are we descended from an alien life force? Are we nothing more than evolved beasts?

Who knows? Can we ever know for sure anyway?

Jack is one of those guys who thinks that nobody can know for certain if God exists, and nobody could ever know for sure what He is like. In Jack’s world, God is unprovable and unknowable.

God Reveals

Imagine if we had to spend our entire lives sitting in a room without any windows. There is a door in this room, but the handle is on the other side. In other words, there is no way out and there is no way of knowing what is on the other side of that door. There may be something or there may be nothing.

You and your friends are constantly trying to figure the problem out. Some of them claim to hear noises out there, but others say it’s all in their imaginations. Some try and guess what’s out there and some can’t be bothered because, after all, most of it is pure speculation. Some people are claiming they know 100% what is out there, even though they’ve never ventured out of the room in their life.

The bottom line is this: none of the people in the room know for sure. This is how most people think of the meaning of life and the existence of God.

The human race is trapped on this planet, and many believe that we have no way of knowing for sure if there is anything out there. Anybody who claims to know for sure is met with suspicion. How can we know anything for sure? Have we seen it with our own eyes? Where is the proof? The only way anybody in that room could have certainty about what was on the other side of the door is if it was opened and revealed to them.

This is always the first lesson a person has to accept about the Christian faith. This is what Jack has to understand. We can never know anything for certain about the existence of God unless He chooses to reveal it to us. Google can’t help us. Our friends can’t help us. The only way anybody can know for sure is if the God ‘out there’ reveals Himself to us ‘down here’.

And this is precisely what the Christian faith claims He has done.

This is an adapted excerpt from Mez McConnell’s book, God: Is He Out There?, which is part of the recently released First Steps series.

Thanks to our friends at 10ofthose, this series is currently heavily discounted. You can purchase it in the UK here and the U.S. here.

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