The biggest … perhaps I should say “the grandest” question that mankind has to ask must be “is there a God?”
The question is asked in every corner of the earth, whether you live in a mud hut or in a high-rise glass and steel building in the heart of an urban area. It’s asked by the person using an ox to plow a rice field and also by the person with an Apple iPhone 11.
Doesn’t matter who or where you are, the same basic curiosity exists as mankind continues to strive to know if there is a God.
If you are like me – let me assume for a moment that you are – there is a decision tree that you go through as you try to answer this question. It looks something like this: Decision 1 – “Is there a God?” If you conclude initially that there is no God, then the decision process stops there: you are designated an atheist.
If you decide that you just can’t decide, then that is called being agnostic, and you decide to try to decide later based on experience and more knowledge.
But, if you initially decide there must be a God, then you decide to explore further and go to the next branch of the decision tree.
Decision 2: “If there is a God, then what am I to do? What is our relationship supposed to be like?” To honestly answer this question we have to ask ourselves what is the identity of this God? We have a number of identities that are presented for us, including, for example, the Buddhist understanding of God, the Islamic understanding of God, the Hindu understanding and of course, the Christian understanding of God.
All four of these big four are very distinct from one another even though some do try to synthesize them together (along with other gods). But if I may, for the sake of illustration, demonstrate that all four have very different expectations when it comes to how to relate to God and answer the basic question, “How do I live eternally with God?”
Only Christianity, of the four, does not teach salvation through doing things. It is a faith that is based upon salvation by grace alone. That is, the God of the Bible tells us there is nothing that we can do to live with him eternally on our own. Because we have sinned against him, meaning we have become disobedient, God decided to sacrifice his son Jesus and we have to accept him as his son and our Lord. Only then will we be reconciled to him.
I, like everyone else, had to go through this decision tree and decide the reality or the nonreality of God. I found that the God of the Bible offers the most honest and clear explanation of God, the condition of humanity and his relation to humanity.
In the Old Testament of the Bible is a book written by a king, Solomon. The book is entitled Ecclesiastes and is Solomon’s observations of humanity and God. It is in Chapter 3, Verse 11 that he makes the comment that “He (God) has also set eternity in their heart.”
He was acknowledging that mankind has a pre-existing, built-in-his-DNA, fundamental relationship with God put there by God. A general awareness of the creator God.
I was driving on 19th Avenue through San Francisco when I noticed a man, clearly naked, rolling in the grass and leaves making animal noises. I was telling the story to my professor at seminary later that day, and he said I should not be so quick to judge, as this person may have been trying to make some sort of connection to the creator of the universe, God.
He made a point that this man may not have had any knowledge of God but still had a yearning to know God (“eternity in his heart”), and this was the only method that he knew of to make that connection.
It’s very clear to me that God is not a God of confusion; confusion in the world is caused by mankind. God is a God of clarity and truth and desires nothing more than for us to know him in clarity and through truth.
God desires that we honestly know him and obey him. I’m thankful that is the case and that he continually tries to reveal himself to me and to you so that all doubts are removed and our decision is an obvious one.
The Rev. John Myers is pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Salida.