There are a few reasons one could mention, but I’m focusing specifically on the challenge, or perception, surmised best in the above question, and it focuses on the need for "faith". If God exists, then why doesn't he just show himself already? Or perhaps you've heard the question of 'where's your proof that God exists?'
Many think there’s an onus on the believer to convince or prove the existence of God, but the truth is that they, or many Christians (theists) for that matter, haven’t thought about this issue deeply enough. Those same folk want to have it both ways. Put simply; you cannot have God reveal himself and show up on every proverbial doorstep, AND maintain our freedom of choice. Once God's existence is 'proven beyond all shadow of doubt' - everyone will be forced into action.
And the key word here, is ‘FORCED’!
There will be no time for choice (in the final days) because as the saying goes "there's no point in saying 'I choose to kneel' if kneeling is the only option. Here's a scenario to explain what I mean:
Lets for a moment say that God came and revealed himself to every individual on the face of the earth (no faith required), producing a complimentary miracle to prove he is who he claims to be, and then said "you are now free to choose: Follow me, or don't follow me. BUT, if you decide to turn away from me, after you die you will burn in the fiery pit of hell for all eternity."
This, is essentially a threat, forcing people to choose, or live on without God and eventually die and then suffer damnation. This technique is also known as coercion. And according to most courts of law, any testimony offered under duress, is inadmissible or invalid because any choice you make is not genuine. A genuine choice involves a 3rd option - the choice NOT to choose, or to avoid the issue entirely. Also, the way in which many people want God to reveal himself, is a way that completely negates the relational aspect that God seeks.
Incidentally it’s also why torture is seen as an unreliable method to gain information, because people will say anything to stop the pain.
Why do I escalate this to torture? Well, God turned it on its head - the flip side of this is that the disciples of Jesus were all tortured for their testimony in claiming that they saw Jesus resurrected. All of them had to answer a simple yes or no question – if they denied their claim to seeing him, their lives would be spared… But all chose to rather suffer and die for the certainty of the truth [although Apostle John was the only 1 of the original 12 to survive and live to an old age, albeit exiled/imprisoned to the isle of Patmos, He still had to make the same decision the others had.] If you look a little deeper here you’ll see that, regarding coercion, even if someone had denied seeing Jesus alive after being crucified, that testimony could not legitimately be trusted because their motivation was not the truth, but simply to escape their torment. I don’t know anyone who would willingly die for something they knew was a lie [unless, for example, it was a lie they concocted themselves to save a loved one in immediate danger]. Hence the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the testimonies of his resurrection were ‘purified’ through the martyrdom of the disciples. Here God used death (the very thing Jesus came to overcome) to seal the convictions of these men. Their testimonies are now canonized and accepted as historical record. The Gospel of Luke in particular, is credited as the most accurate historical account as it was written using the Historical Method.
Immediately after Christ's death, the proverbial 'Jesus movement' was also dead. The disciples had gone back to their usual jobs where Jesus had first found them... but 3 days later something happened, changing their lives and inspiring these men to take the gospel to the nations, and then suffer and die horrible deaths for what they had seen and believed.
It speaks volumes that the very empire that killed the man claiming to be the messiah, then abandoned their false gods – Jupiter, Apollo etc. – and adopted the faith in Jesus Christ as the son of God as the cornerstone of Roman Catholicism.
The Bible though, for all its claims, does not force anyone to believe in it. Hence we have a choice. For instance atheists have made their choice; though in recent years many have ‘evolved’ into anti-theists, antagonizing people for their belief in God (or a belief in any god), trying to convince many to adopt atheism.
But, atheists Austin Dacey and Lewis Vaughn write:
"What if these arguments purporting to establish that God exists are failures? That is, what if they offer no justification for theistic belief? Must we then conclude that God does not exist? No. Lack of supporting reasons or evidence for a proposition does not show that the proposition is false"
“It is possible for men to be very studious in the letter of the Scriptures, yet to be strangers to its power.” – Commentary by Matthew Henry on John 5:39, which reads “You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me.” – [Holmann Christian Std]
A person (intellectual or philosophical) may come professing the message of God, but people would rather listen to intellectuals or philosophers outside of faith, because then whatever they say is subjective andi smore open to acceptance or dismissal because they are under their own authority. But God’s Word means wrestling with our nature, and truly submitting to the truth, that there is an absolute right, and an absolute wrong - and this means submitting to an objective all powerful authority that is above man. As mentioned, it is a concept man still rebels against, today more than ever.
“I have come in my father’s name, and you do not accept me; but if someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him.” – Jesus speaking to the Jews… John 5:43 [NIV]
Why did God send his son? - You’ve probably heard the story of repentance and salvation etc. But the story of the whole Bible is how man (Adam) turned from God, condemning man to sin and death; and how God, through his love for us, has been working to bring us back to himself.
It sounds simple, because it is. But the ramifications and impact on our lives and deeper meanings of how all this plays out in the world, is not so simple.
- A Relationship
- It sounds crazy to think that the creator of the whole universe, who doesn’t need anything, has somehow reached out to us, but not in a way that would make us his slaves, to eternally bow down in his presence… but to welcome us, to form a relationship with him, and to become part of his family. Yeah, that does sound crazy!
- God wants us to choose… to seek him, voluntarily. He didn’t create us to be machines that would automatically do whatever he wanted us to – you cannot obtain real love from that. He wants us to choose Him.
- “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God's Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, "Abba, Father."” Romans 8:15 [New Living Translation]
So then what does it mean to fear God?
We’ve heard of being ‘God fearing’, but many do not understand it. They only recognize it as an attachment to slavery. But to be God fearing is similar to when you feared your parents (or father) as a child. It was a fear born out of respect, and not wanting to disappoint. But here its a natural fear, born from the knowledge of God's incomparable Power and Authority.
Another note on “fear”:
The phrase “do not be afraid” appears In the Bible 365 times (one for every day of the year); this is not by chance. An ALL powerful God, a spiritual and supernatural realm – these are things that could easily frighten us, just the thought of the possibility of another realm alone… But God has sent a message to those who choose him, through all the mess of humanity and worldly distractions, defiance and insecurities… a simple message that entails peace, love and to ‘not be afraid’, meaning in addition to faith, we need to exercise Trust... the foundations of a relationship.
Make no mistake; experiencing the heart of this message carries unspeakable comfort, but our journey toward that place of comfort, begins in a mess of inner turmoil as we wrestle with our soul and spirit, deal with repentance and the beginnings of this thing called faith. Just as a chaos ensues within a seed just prior to germination as it breaks open and 'dies' for the plant to grow, similarly we go though a deep inner turmoil at the start of this journey with God.
“Aslan, Aslan, Dear Aslan,” sobbed Lucy. “At last.”
The great beast rolled over on his side so that Lucy fell, half sitting and half lying between his front paws. He bent forward and just touched her nose with his tongue. His warm breath came all round her. She gazed up into the large wise face.
“Welcome child,” He said.
"Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you."
--- C.S. Lewis, 'The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe'. Photo: 'Aslanlucyreunion' from narnia.wikia.com
*of course in the book, Aslan represents God*
"things we obtain too easily, we esteem to lightly"
--- Thomas Paine
Why is God Invisible?