Why wouldn’t God make Himself more apparent to us? If He exists, why doesn’t He make it obvious?
For many who reject Christianity, and teeter on the edge of rejecting the very idea of a real God, this may be the way to summarize their puzzlement. Let’s consider a few features of this criticism. What follows are a few answers, or explanations about why the question is a weak one.
We Don’t Grasp That This is God We’re Talking About
We should be cautious here. We’re talking about questioning God’s prerogative about how He chooses to reveal Himself. That means evaluating God on the basis of what we think God should be and do. Where do we get off questioning God? Besides, isn’t this backward? Shouldn’t we be evaluating ourselves on the basis of what God thinks we should be and do?
We Give Primacy to Our Own Sensibilities
People without the imagination to escape their own perspective can be dangerous. Granted we cannot understand God’s perspective entirely. But can we not step outside our own sufficiently to apply another standard than our own, to God?
Besides, consider what it means if we are evaluating God based on what we think God ought to do (reveal Himself; make Himself more obvious; bless us more than He already does). It means we have an ideal that we hold to be higher than God, by which we have the temerity to measure Him. If we carry around in our minds a higher ideal than God, then we just don’t understand God.
On top of that, we don’t understand who we are in relation to Him. It is a failing of humility. Back in the day, it was called “pride.” As used in this proverb: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
God is in Heaven; We’re Here
God is not more obvious to us because He occupies a realm that transcends that which we inhabit in this life. An obvious answer, yet we may miss it if we simply don’t credit that there is another place transcendent to this one. In that case, what we’ve really done, perhaps implicitly, is adopt the belief that the physical world comprises all of reality. If that’s the foundational belief, God is thought not to exist only because we’ve philosophically defined Him out of existence, not because He isn’t really there.
We Are Important
If we’re so jolly important, why does God hide from us? Well, imagine. Let’s escape the bonds of self-directed perspective, and consider what the plan might be of a good God who is not as obvious to us as we think we want. It could be as simple as this: that God desires that we reach for Him, using our powers of reason to discern the truth of a super-natural reality that we can’t presently, ordinarily, see, feel, or hear. It could be that He has a much different time horizon than what we’re able to imagine. It may be true that one day He will be quite obvious to us; that on that day “every knee will bow,” though some in abject terror. So maybe He wants us to reach for Him in His existence outside our scope of time, as well as our scope of space.
Why? Well, it could actually be true that He loves us like we’re told He does, and that He puts us through this so that we who reach and find Him can then live with Him – to enjoy His company; and He ours. It makes sense that He would do this, and be motivated in this way, if we are in fact made in His image. A father who loves his son gives him what he needs, not what he wants. That we could be thus made qualified to sit in the presence of the Creator of the universe is awesome. We are not God, but we have the potential to be more awesome ourselves than we can presently imagine.
God Does Reveal Himself
If God wanted to reveal Himself to all of mankind, but maintain the relationship just described, how might He do it? How about this. First, there’s the problem of man’s tendency to evil that must be dealt with. Man is not-God. God might make Himself known to one such man, intending that that man go on to found a new tribe, instilling in that tribe a love for and loyalty to God, and an understanding of the reason for its distance from God, and an understanding of the need for its division from other tribes.
From the beginning of that relationship, God might hint at how reconciliation will be achieved. In the meantime, blood propitiation would be required, because the division from God is a moral one, and God is just. Before the event of reconciliation, God’s tribe would have to look to that event in the future, understanding it but dimly against the backdrop of history as it unfolds. God might in that time speak more directly, and manifest Himself more obviously.
Then, when the time comes, an ultimate blood propitiation is made, in the person of God Himself. In the generations following, the revelation could be reviewed as history. It could be read like a book. In fact, God could assure that it is a book.