“Seeing is believing” was the tagline emblazoned on the side of a bus as an advertisement for the celebrity magician Dynamo. As I wandered up the path, that tagline got me thinking, because as a Christian I have heard friends say so many times that if God would just show Himself to them, if they could see something of Him, then they would believe. But the reason the tagline works so well for a magician is because with a magician you have to suspend disbelief. You can’t really watch a magician as a cynic and enjoy it because you know that however flashy it is, it’s all a trick.
When it comes to magic shows, your sight does not tell you the truth. If you delve a bit deeper into the show you’ll find that it’s all just clever technology, sleight of hand and diversion of attention. Your eyes are deceiving you. Thinking about that made me realise the double standard that people apply when it comes to God. There are so many things that we believe in without being able to see (take gravity, for example), and there are many other things, like the magic show, that we see, but don’t believe in. And yet for a lot of people, the opposite is true when it comes to God: “I can’t see him so he’s just an imaginary sky fairy”. As an argument it just has no basis in human experience, yet it is so, so widespread.
It often goes coupled with the assumption that God should show Himself to you (which also brings with it an assumption that He hasn’t already). Let me say unequivocally that God owes nothing to you and He is not a rabbit to be pulled out of a hat with a white-toothed smile and jazz hands. As far as we can, let’s try and think about this from the point of view of the Christian God. You’ve created the entire material world, including humans. Humans have rebelled against you because they don’t like what you tell them to do. Because you’re faithful and you want them to come to know you you don’t give up on them, but you actually enter their world as one of them, to be killed at the hands of those you’ve created in the most shameful way, in order to make a way for them to know you. Despite the fact that you’ve done this they still resist you and demand over and over again that you appear for them like a performing monkey to satisfy their curiosity. God owes nothing because He’s already given everything; He doesn’t need to appear before you now because He’s already walked on this planet and died for the privilege.
Back to the original point, why should you have to see in order to believe anyway? If you’re reading this then you have the capacity to think for yourself about it. I personally favour historical evidence for Jesus as a way into thinking about whether Christianity is true or not, and there’s no reason that you can’t research down that avenue. Or maybe you want to go down a more moral philosophical road, or even a scientific road (though that one’s a proper minefield), that’s great. What I’m trying to say is that there are solid ways of trying to find God that don’t involve waiting for Him to appear in front of you. That’s not to say He won’t…but I wouldn’t wait up for it.
You see, when it comes to God, your mind and your attitude are so important. God values humility. We know this because He showed more humility than we ever could by becoming one of us and dying. He also values honesty, faith and sincerity. Those are key tools when thinking about God. There’s one more important thing to remember as well, if you’re looking for God, you’re not trying to weigh up a concept or an abstract theory, you’re looking for a person, and He will respond to you, just maybe not in the way that you expect Him to.