Can We Talk About … Um…(cough cough) God?
Based on the pile and passion of the feedback I’ve received, a recent message struck a chord that reverberated somewhere…
Based on the pile and passion of the feedback I’ve received, a recent message struck a chord that reverberated somewhere deep inside folk. We kicked off a new series to help us navigate through some pretty sticky wickets. It’s about questions a lot of Christians hope no one will ask. The truth is a lot of us don’t feel like we know how to answer tough questions. Or maybe it’s because we aren’t real sure there are any good answers. Either way, when someone pops a tough one on us, we’re just as likely to avoid it by pointing and saying, “Squirrel!” as we are to say, “Glad you asked!”
And yet 1 Peter 3:15-16 says, “If someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way….”
So we started things off with a doozy: “What makes you so sure there even is a God in the first place?” You kinda had to be there, but you can catch yourself up by watching here. (You’ll also find the messages on “Why Are Christians So Intolerant?” “What’s the Big Deal about Jesus? Who is this man?” and “Can you really believe in God in an age of science?”)
Maybe you heard about the philosophical atheist who had insomnia and dyslexia? He lay awake all night wondering if really is a dog. Okay, that’s a joke. What isn’t a joke is that it’s not just Richard Dawkins who wonders if God is merely a dangerous delusion or wishful illusion based on naïve confusion. So how do we, um, (cough, cough) TALK about this?
And if you are going to put a FISH on your car or claim the name Christian, please avoid two extremes. This isn’t about loading up your ammo for combat. We’re not trying to load our Bible bazookas so we can blast our “opponents” to smithereens. But it’s also not right for Christ followers to cower, fearing that we can’t or shouldn’t speak up. Between confrontation and cowering is the middle ground of conversation.
I promised I’d share here some of the ideas from the message, and I’ll do so if you promise you will ask God to steer you into a conversation about Him where you can use this stuff. (Go ahead … promise now. I’ll wait.) Remember, trying to ‘prove’ God exists is like trying to ‘prove’ love is real. It’s not the realm of scientific proof. But we do have evidence, signs, hints, clues, fingerprints, all of which builds an overwhelmingly persuasive case. Let me list out some of those fingerprint-like clues — stuff you can point to in a real conversation – which can help you be used of God to point hearts and minds toward Him.
- Your own story. Share what you know to be true about God in your own personal experience. What difference does it make in YOUR life? No one can argue with that.
- The existence of the universe. Science is real sure the universe had a beginning, which had to be caused by something outside the universe – that is, something outside time, space, matter, and physical energy. Hmmmm, sounds a little bit like, um, God.
- Our “just so” universe. The universe operates in a delicate balance with numerous amazing laws and constants that are set in what Mark Mittelberg calls a “just so” way. If the sun is a smidgen farther away, we’re the frozen chosen; a tad closer and we’re Kentucky Fried Christians. Hmmm, what a … coincidence?
- We have an internal moral compass & a longing for justice. Somehow people from all cultures and customs share universal moral sensibilities that are hard wired into us. We have shared longing for a world put to rights, where children aren’t abused, hurricanes don’t destroy, and life is good. Where did all this come from? Could it be the result of a Creator who put enough of himself in us that we still hear, as N.T. Wright says, the echo of his voice in our souls?
- We thirst for spiritual connection. Folks may be trying to quench this thirst with all kinds of things these days, but you can’t blame them for being thirsty. Where does this timeless, unstoppable desire to connect with God come from? What makes the most sense to many is that it is a pull toward One who made us for himself.
- We long for lasting relationships. And yet, we can never achieve them. This ache leads us to long for something beyond this life, beyond what anything or anyone can provide. The Bible’s answer is that all of these longings point undeniably back to the One who planted eternity in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
Each clue alone may not be conclusive, but together they are powerfully persuasive. They are like signposts that lead us very close to Jesus. Like we’re in the center of a maze, hearing the voice speaking to us about all six of these things, but still not able to see it. What has happened in my life is that the Bible speaks of Jesus in a way that he comes out from behind the hedge, and there he is! You can see that he is in fact the very One who has been speaking all these things to me all along. And I have come to believe … to trust … to know that if I trust in him, I am trusting and believing and knowing God.
Go talk about it.