I often see Internet arguments about whether God exists and what God is, as if life’s most important questions were matters of taste to be debated. In fact, we do know a great deal now about the core creative force, and it is indeed extraordinary; but the more we learn, the more we see that both theists and atheists are missing the point. You might perhaps say they both are right; but also they both are profoundly wrong.
The judgmental Big Guy with the beard and thunderbolts that many people envision when they think of God does not exist. There is no evidence whatsoever for an anthropomorphic God that is anything like the Christian God. And believe me, we have looked for it!
On the other hand, the only thing that exists is the creative force that continuously manifests what we experience as this universe, and every single human mind is indivisibly part of that creative force. Therefore the atheists’ bet is wrong, too. We know now that all that exists is God!
We shouldn’t be surprised to discover that what was believed about God years and centuries ago is wrong. People have become more sophisticated in every other way, so why should our understanding of God be an exception? Actually, what is interesting to me is the fact that Jesus in the Gospels told the primitive people of his day things that have proven in the face of modern evidence to be amazingly accurate.
With humble awareness that our limited earth-minds cannot grasp in detail the objective truth, let’s look at what the evidence suggests is genuinely true about God:
It is possible to come to know the genuine God! During all the decades when I was a zealous Christian, reading the Bible daily, praying on my knees, and living with the thought that God was a stern paterfamilias that I had to find a way to please, I realize now that I never felt close to God. No matter how I tried to get further into it, everything about religion felt external to me in the same way that all human institutions feel external. Religion is laws the way government is laws. You miss church on Sunday and you feel guilty.
It was only when I trusted Jesus enough to leave Christianity and follow Him that I was able to begin to find and know God. I am astonished to tell you that religious ideas about God actually prevent our finding God! They put a false and scary God into our minds that keeps us from coming to know the genuine God at the core of each of us. God is who we really are.
It is difficult to adequately express the joy of coming to know at last the genuine God. I’ve been trying to think of how to help you see the way that finding God feels to me after a lifetime of earnest searching. In fact, this utter joy is ineffable: there really are not sufficient words. Perhaps it feels like home and safety and the certainty of being perfectly loved, very much as a little child must feel before the outside world intrudes. It feels like power beyond imagining, so I know that every least thing that happens works for good in some way that we are too small to see; and it feels like joy so deep and love so complete that you cannot even remember how it felt to know fear.
Two Biblical passages express this feeling well. Philippians 4:7 is how Paul says it: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” But perhaps the ancient words of Deuteronomy 33:27 say it best of all: “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
Finding God means finding those arms and realizing they have been there all along. Even though our understanding while we are in bodies is necessarily limited, we are in the presence at last of a Godhead Who loves us so perfectly that God’s very love becomes our greatest challenge! To better understand that love, and to grow to meet it, becomes the beating heart of life and everything that matters to us. That seminal tune from the rock musical, Godspell, says it well: “Day by day, day by day, oh dear Lord three things I pray: to see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow thee more nearly. Day by day….”