THE GOD WHO IS HIDDEN

One of the most intriguing characteristics of God in scripture is his hiddenness. We see it in the Psalms when the psalmist pleads with God asking why he is hiding, and how long he will remain so. Job asks this of God, asking where He is while Job is suffering. God is oftentimes described as being surrounded by darkness, hidden within it. Jesus reveals the hiddenness within Himself as well. He wants it kept a secret that He is the Messiah. Often he slips away from the crowd when he can to be alone with His Father. When Jesus reveals Himself to Thomas after the resurrection He says, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (John 20:29). This is also seen in the lives of many believers, actually all. One example is Mother Theresa, who spent most of her life in what she referred to as the darkness of God. God Himself always chooses when He will reveal Himself. I suppose this is one reason why no one was permitted to see the event of the resurrection itself, only the risen Christ in its aftermath.
Why is God like this? If he wants to people to put their faith in Him and engage in a loving relationship, why does He not make it more obvious that He is there? When people ask for evidence for His existence, why does He not show Himself bright and glorious in the sky and come amongst us? Is God just really shy? These are all significant questions to be asked. It does reveal a certain humility to God.

Let us do a short thought experiment. If God did suddenly reveal Himself in all His glory, what would happen? I suspect one of two things. One is that people who don’t want to believe will rationalize it away. I think the other option is that people will be compelled to know him, but it will not be out of love. God is love, and love demands a certain freedom be given to the other. Love never compels. Yes, we have been given a command to love God, but that command is pure and simply one either we are faithful to or we are not.

Now I am going to tie this in with evolution. Ronald Osborne, author of “Death Before the Fall: Biblical Literalism and the Problem of Animal Suffering” poses an interesting thought experiment. What if the young earth creationists turn out to be right? Let’s say that all the scientific evidence within the next thirty years does a complete 180 degree turn, and reveals a universe that is consistent with the age range of 6-10,0000 years ago, and shows no sign whatsoever of having evolved, but provides ample evidence to the point of certainty that this universe is indeed the product of the God of the Bible. What would this mean? It would mean that in science class, we could have students do some experiment that proves the existence of God. God would become subject to our empirical tests and ways of knowing. He would no longer, however, truly be the God of the Bible who self-discloses and self-conceals. He would be the God of the test-tube, a very small God indeed. Evolution, though, is entirely consistent with the self-disclosing and self-concealing God of scripture. The one we truly believe is there, but ask “why do you hide from me?” as the psalmist does. That God is so much bigger, the God who is infinite and boundless in His love, who is all powerful, yet is willing to not exercise that power in great humility. One who is so far above us, and yet so near at the same time. He has made belief in Him reasonable, but not so much so that it does not require faith. That is the God I worship, and The Lord of all who is revealed in scripture.

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