Tag Archives: God

God is not a court jester

Have you ever heard or read someone lamenting that there is simply not enough evidence to suggest that God exists? Or, that if He does exist, then He should make it obvious? I have, and I have always wondered what kind of evidence exactly these folks are looking for.

What evidence would be enough to demonstrate to another person that God exists? For some, the thought is that we should expect to see God write “I am real!” in the clouds. However, I am convinced that even this would not convince most unbelievers. To be quite plain, the evidence for God is all around us in creation. Sure, there are materialistic ways to explain most of what we see, but I do not see how this explains away God. After all, you could stumble into my kitchen on a Saturday morning, find a pot of cheese grits on the stove, explain there existence through various laws of physics, and defiantly claim that no grit-maker exists because everything could be explained materialistically. The problem with this, however, is that I do exist.

So, lets consider the evidence that God could provide us, and how He has fared in providing it:

  • He could write something to us. Check – Bible.
  • He could speak to us in some way. Check – prophets.
  • He could physically come into the world and dwell with us. Check – Jesus.
  • He could make the created order look like something designed by an intelligent creator. Check – the created order certainly appears to have design.
  • He could make us naturally inclined to believe in Him. Check – we do have natural biases towards seeing design in nature and desiring the supernatural.

This is a small list off the top of my head illustrating that God has given us plenty of evidence for His existence. But, as you may be aware, those who do not believe will typically scoff at the items on this list. So, the real issue is not that God has failed to give us evidence. Indeed, it appears that the real issue is that God is not capable of being manipulated. People want God to be a court jester and not the sovereign ruler and creator of all that is.

A court jester can be told what to do, when to do it, and how it should be done. If God were a court jester, we could demand services from Him and expect them to be done in the way we want at the time we want. And, at the end of the day, it seems that this is what skeptical people are after. But, if God were a court jester, he would not be worth worshiping. The one true God, however, is worthy of our worship and He is not a court jester but is indeed the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Is God a Cosmic Care Bear?

In my last post I addressed the notion that God is a cosmic vending machine. In this post, I aim to address another common notion in popular culture: that God is a cosmic Care Bear. According to this view, God is simply the always smiling, always cuddly, stuffed animal from our youth that expects nothing of us. The view is often trotted out with the line that God is love.

Now, before I go further, I should make it clear that God is love and I am not questioning that. What I am calling into question is whether or not this is His only trait. For, when we say, “God is love,” and make that His single defining characteristic, what we have done is mischaracterized God in the minds of many. This is the result of a misunderstanding of both love and God.

Many people take love to be some form of blind acceptance and approval of anything and everything. So, according to this view, regardless of what you bring to the table, God would have a big smile on His face and give His approval. But, is this love? I think not. Imagine a parent acting in such a way. Regardless of what the child does, the parent responds with unflinching acceptance. In this scenario, there is no discipline, concern for others, or guidance as the child develops into an adult. Imagine a government that “cares” for its citizens but refuses to administer justice. The result would be pain for countless citizens that are abused at the hands of others, all the while the loving and caring government stands by and smiles with approval. Suddenly what we thought was love becomes hatred. Most of us know what love is, even if we can’t define it perfectly. And we also know, when we are honest with ourselves, that a Care Bear does not represent real love.

Now, moving on to the real substance of this topic. God is God, this is our actual starting block. From here we begin to see the many ways that God is described in the Bible. So, let’s look at a small sampling of the ways God is directly described in Scripture. God is: love (1 John 4:8, 16); Holy (Lev. 11:44,45; 19:2; 20:26); jealous (Deut. 4:24); great and awesome (Deut. 7:21); a God of justice (Isa. 30:18); one who loves justice, but hates robbery wrongdoing (Isa. 61:8); and the list can go on.

The question is: if we are going to define God by only one term, which one shall we use? Does one deserve more than the others? Or, why can we not just take Him as the Bible describes Him? For myself, I take God as the Bible describes Him, which includes all of the attributes listed in the previous chapter, plus many more. Understanding God in this way does not leave room for the Care Bear view. Adrian Rogers, a brilliant preacher who has gone to be with the Lord, once said, “To preach half a truth as the whole truth is to preach an untruth.” He was referring to people that only emphasize God’s mercy and grace without acknowledging His holiness or role as judge.

Is God a cosmic vending machine?

There are many people in this world, including in the church, that view God as some sort of cosmic vending machine. You insert a prayer or two and out pops your fulfilled request. While this sounds good, it is horribly mistaken. God is not a genie in a bottle that exists to answer our wishes. He is the one true God who is the creator and sustainer of all that is.

Those who try to see God as a cosmic vending machine that should do our bidding are looking to a god made in their imagination and not the true God who has made us in His image. It is sad to hear people tell stories of disappointment with God for unanswered prayers and how it causes some to even lose their faith. Why have we given people such an expectation from God? The Bible is filled with stories of righteous people that have suffered. If a man like Job had to endure so much pain and grief, why should we think that God will give us a pass?

The Bible does speak about God answering prayers when we ask, but there is a key component that people often overlook. The Bible teaches that we will get what we ask for when we ask according to God’s will (1 John 5:14-15). So, the question we should ask ourselves is whether or not we are praying according to our will, or God’s? I contend that our prayers are often driven by personal desire.

But how can we know the will of God? I am not certain that we can always know what God’s will is in every circumstance. But, there are many times when we can discern God’s will because of clear Scriptural teaching. Still, there are also times when things are not so clear. While I do not have a perfect answer to this question, I do think the key is to draw as close to God as possible.

The more we immerse ourselves in prayer, the reading and study of Scripture, sharing in the fellowship of other believers, and similar disciplines, the more we will be able to see God at work in the world around us. As we draw closer to God and observe and reflect on His handiwork, we will increasingly be able to discern His good and perfect will. And, in those circumstances when we simply cannot make sense of what God is doing in the world, we will have learned enough about Him and experienced enough of His love to know that we can trust Him even in the dark moments of life.  As we draw closer to God there will likely be a change in our prayers.  We will notice them becoming more God-centered and less focused on us.

So, to tie this back together, let me reiterate that God is not a cosmic vending machine. When we lift up our prayers we lift them to the one true God, the very creator of all that is.