Does God exist?

The reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke 19:1-10

It has become quite fashionable in our time for people to wonder about the existence of God. More often than not we hear people tell us that they are “spiritual but not religious”, a phrase which to my knowledge has never been defined in any meaningful way. In addition we have a great number of people who say to us “I would believe in God if only He would show Himself to me.” “I would believe in God if only He would stop hiding.”

To me these types of statements would be equivalent to my youngest daughter (she’s 3) telling me that she wished she knew calculus. While it is a high and lofty goal, it misses a few critical steps in the process. The act of knowing God is not simply blind faith or wishful thinking. Theology, the study of God is a complex exercise with various steps along the way. In the same way that we do not learn calculus without first learning basic arithmetic we likewise do not simply come to a knowledge of God without going through a process.

Think about this….We don’t get fed just because we’re hungry. Just being hungry isn’t enough to make a mouth-watering bacon cheeseburger appear in front of me. Hunger will force me to take other steps. I will have to go to the fridge and open it and search for all the ingredients. Then I will have to prepare all the ingredients and cook them and put the sandwich together. No matter what it is that I’d like to eat, the simple act of being hungry isn’t enough to make food appear right before your eyes or in your belly. There is work that is involved. Yet with God we somehow have a different set of expectations. If I say that I am hungry for God and God doesn’t come sit next to me on the couch or leap right into my heart and mind then I somehow get the impression that God doesn’t exist. I’d like you to rethink that strategy a bit.

I want you to know that if you’re truly hungry for God, you wouldn’t just sit around talking about it or lamenting the fact that God is ignoring you. If you were truly hungry for God you would follow the example of a man we hear about in today’s gospel reading according to St. Luke. We are told that as the Lord Jesus was passing through Jericho there was a tax collector named Zachaeus. Now we are told that “ he sought to see Who Jesus was.” Did you get that? The crucial part of the story was that Zachaeus “sought to see Who Jesus was.” He wasn’t happy simply hearing about Him from others or simply imagining that he knew anything about this man named Jesus, as so many modern people tend to do. He wasn’t out to fool himself. Zachaeus was hungry for God so he actually went looking for answers. But since he couldn’t possibly see God (God is spirit) and can’t be observed with our human eyes. He also can’t be examined under a microscope or in a test tube. Zachaeus couldn’t find God that way, so he did the next best thing…he tried to find out the real identity of Jesus of Nazareth. Think about that statement “he sought to see Who Jesus was.” Doesn’t it sound funny? It means that Zachaeus was actually trying to get past the name of Jesus to actually try and discover whatever he could discover about the actual person of Jesus. Was Jesus simply another Jewish rabbi, or a revolutionary or a magician or something more? That is what Zachaeus wanted to know.

But he didn’t stop because of his hunger. He didn’t let his hunger discourage him. His hunger moved him to go out of his way to find the answer. In fact he went above and beyond to overcome the many obstacles that were in his way. What have we done to satisfy our hunger for God? What have we done to inquire and investigate into this man called Jesus, the Jew who has captivated the attention of the whole world for the last 2000 years?

You want to know if God exists? Good luck with that. God the Father is invisible and He won’t be visiting you or calling you on the phone, that I can promise. But there is an alternative. The Lord Jesus teaches us that whoever has seen Him has seen the Father who sent Him. That is a bold statement. Have we ever imagined that it could actually be true?

C.S. Lewis writes about the person of Jesus in his great book “Mere Christianity”. He says “I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him (Jesus): “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg – or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse.” “You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

So you really want to know if God exists…..follow Zachaeus and try with all your strength to answer this question “Who is Jesus Christ?” I would suggest that the best place to look for answers would be to read the 4 gospels which were written by those closest to the Lord. This is not simply for those who call themselves atheists, but for those who call themselves Christians but don’t really know much about Christ. Let’s do our part to replace the skeptical heart with the faithful, hungry heart like this man Zachaeus. In this way salvation will truly come to us and to our households. Glory be to God forever AMEN.

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21 thoughts on “Does God exist?

  1. Although I can’t see God in person, I see Him through His Creation and His Mercy and Blessings in my everyday life. Is what I just stated according Orthodox principals and theology?

    • J.R.,

      It is true that we see God’s work through His creation and we feel and are aware of His mercy and many blessings. However we do actually see God through the person of Jesus Christ. “He who has seen me has seen the Father who sent me” John 14:9 Also St. Paul tells us that Jesus is “the image (Ikon) of the invisibile God” Colosians 1:15. So we do see God quite clearly in the person of the Son of God. God bless and thanks for your sharing your comments!

  2. ” I would suggest that the best place to look for answers would be to read the 4 gospels which were written by those closest to the Lord. ”

    I have. And the rest of the Bible.

    And I’m still an atheist. But I would definitely encourage everyone to read the Bible.

  3. Fair enough. That is certainly a possibility. We take it on faith that Jesus of Nazareth existed and there are certainly some who do not believe that to be the case. I only wonder why so many people died for such a legend including the disciples and Apostles?

    There have been many legends throughout history, but what about this particular legend makes it so powerful and enduring for thousands of years?

    • ” I only wonder why so many people died for such a legend including the disciples and Apostles? ”

      I wonder why so many people admitted to being witches and died for it. I wonder why the Heaven’s Gate cult committed mass suicide because they believed a spaceship was coming for them. I wonder why suicide bombers die for their beliefs.

      I don’t say that there aren’t believers. But the fact that someone believes something doesn’t serve as evidence of that thing being true.

      • I appreciate that thought but I think such a line of thinking is not terribly logical. In the case of a witch, she knows that she is a witch. In the case of a suicide cult, typically the founder knows that he is a fraud or he is completely nuts. Suicide bombers die because they believe that will guarantee them an entry to paradise and because they believe Islam is true. Christianity is unlike any of these. Would the Apostles have been willing to die for something that they knew was a lie (in this case: the resurrection of Christ)? It seems quite unlikely. They were demonized, cut off from the synagogue, thrown in prisons and put before executioners and what you are suggesting is that they did all of this for a lie. It sounds like wishful thinking to me. Besides all of this I am comforted by the idea that God shows His love for us through the crucified one. God bless your search for Him!

  4. ” In the case of a witch, she knows that she is a witch.”

    You know that witchcraft isn’t real, right? That everyone who was tortured until they confessed wasn’t being honest, they just wanted the torture to stop. Those who believed they were witches were wrong.

    “or he is completely nuts.”

    What justification do you have to say this?

    “Would the Apostles have been willing to die for something that they knew was a lie”

    I never said they knew it was a lie. Cult members believe that their story is true, and die for it. In the same way.

    You’re assuming everything written in the gospels is 100% accurate. I do not believe that.

    “what you are suggesting is that they did all of this for a lie.”

    No. I’m suggesting they did this for something that wasn’t true. But then, I believe all religions are untrue.

    ” Besides all of this I am comforted by the idea that God shows His love for us through the crucified one. ”

    Sorry, but the idea that anyone can show love through human sacrifice is mildly sickening to me.

  5. My friend, the Apostles certainly would’ve known if the resurrection of Christ was a lie, because they would’ve been the inventors of the lie. They are the ones who spread the message of the resurrection far and wide although they have nothing earthly to gain from doing so.

    Is suffering or dying for those you love really sickening? I thought such an act would be noble, courageous, heroic, loving.

    • ” the Apostles certainly would’ve known if the resurrection of Christ was a lie”

      Assuming they witnessed any such event, and it wasn’t invented by legend-making many years later.

      “Is suffering or dying for those you love really sickening?”

      I think sacrificing yourself, to yourself, to make a loop hole in a law you made, is ridiculous and mildly sickening, yes.

  6. “I think sacrificing yourself, to yourself, to make a loop hole in a law you made, is ridiculous and mildly sickening, yes.”

    That would be true…if that was in fact the case. That is not at all my understanding of why Christ died for us.

    We know that the Apostles were living human beings who died for the belief in the resurrected Christ….so I do think that is a pretty solid assumption to make.

    • “We know that the Apostles were living human beings who died for the belief in the resurrected Christ”

      No. We have reports written years and years later by anonymous authors that say it happened. The same we have for Jesus’ existence.

      That doesn’t mean it happened. It means some religious people were killed by other religious people for having a different religion. What they claim specifically to have witnessed, we don’t know.

      And even if they claimed to have witnessed something, still doesn’t mean it happened. It only means they believe it happened.

  7. I believe that Christian faith is actually something we take on faith. All first principles are in fact taken on faith. I put my faith in the witness of the Apostles as a reasonable and reasonably accurate portrayal of the events. I can never prove that these things happened but I don’t have to thankfully.

  8. Not having a 100% airtight argument is not nearly the same thing as
    “I have no good reason to believe.” Even a court of law does not work on 100% proof, but on a reasonable certainty.

    I believe because I find the evidence to be quite reasonable. I believe that the teachings and example of Jesus Christ resonate with our human experience in a way that no others ever have.
    Since coming to faith in Christ I have had many many experiences that have solidified my belief in Christ including a few outright miracles. I have never ever encountered any situation where the teachings of Christ have not been proved true. He knows and speaks to the human heart in a way that no others can.

    • “Not having a 100% airtight argument is not nearly the same thing as
      “I have no good reason to believe.” ”

      Agreed.

      Which is why I said what I did. I see no good evidence that the supernatural claims made by the Bible are true. Thus, I have no good reason to believe them.

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