Discovering our God

Pastor Tom Jeske

Does this strong, wise, holy God want to hurt me or help me?

Wintertime. The north Atlantic raged. Dark water rose up and hurled itself against the Donegal cliffs. If there’s a god who controls the sea, he must be strong.

A newborn, just seconds out of the womb, is being held upside down by the ankles. The doctor clamps off the bright blue umbilical cord. A swat on the behind, and the frail one gasps. A short time before, little lungs had been filled with fluid; she received her oxygen from her mother’s bloodstream. Now the infant breathes on her own. If there’s a god who designed that, he must be intelligent.

Suddenly a popup was there on the computer screen: “Hi, my name is Jenny. I heard about you from a friend. I have a Webcam if you’d like to watch me. Just click here.” The young man’s heart pounded; he glanced around. If there’s a god with commandments, who knows my thoughts and who disapproves, he must be judgmental.

Friends will admit that there is a God, somebody behind the scenes—of life, of fear, of love, of death. Most come around to the conclusion that he (she? they?) is strong and intelligent. It’s a hideous strength, however, and a threatening intelligence. Our consciences assure us that we have offended this God whom we know from our five senses. As for his strength and his wisdom, he will only use those against us when we meet.

What options does a guilty human being have? Avoid God. Curse him. Say that her conscience is her mother’s fault.

Worship with you? No thanks. Why get any closer to the fire?

Pulling the curtain back

Ten minutes to show time. Children attending the play at the school auditorium notice the curtain move. A little bit of light comes from the gap just above the stage boards. Every so often the kids can see feet under the curtain. They can hear sounds of stage props shifting. “Someone is back there!” they whisper knowingly to each other. It’s not until the heavy curtain is pulled aside, however, that they begin to understand the story.

What we know about God through our senses is true (that he exists—strong, smart, and critical of me), but it is as incomplete as what a boy knows about a play before the curtain opens and reveals the mind of the author.

Part of God’s character is curtained from my five senses. If a strong and intelligent God desired to remain hidden from me, he could surely do that. But if the weak and the guilty are to know God, he would have to pull the curtain back. In the house of death, God would have to reveal himself. God would have to tell me about himself.

“The life appeared; we have seen it” (1 John 1:2).

Jesus appeared 2,000 years ago. His Passion took place halfway around the world from here. I’ve missed him with my five senses. For me to know him, then, he would have had to leave me words, his words. If the Bible is God’s words, it could tell me—rather, he could tell me—what’s in his heart. Does he know me? Does this strong, wise, holy God want to hurt me or help me? Listen!

“We proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us” (1 John 1:2,3).

Eternal life, hmmm.

Can I come worship with you?

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Living Hope Lutheran Church, Omaha, NE