“Why is God silent?”

by K.W. Leslie, 18 March

One of the more common questions—really, more of a complaint—I hear from pagans is, “Why is God so invisible? Why’s he so impossible to detect? Why’s he so hidden? How come, when I pray, I never hear him talk back? How come, whenever I call on him, I get nothing—no answers, no signs, no miracles, no prophets, no audible voice, no burning bush nor pillar of fire, no thunder and lightning, nothing? Why’s he gotta be so impossible? Why’s he gotta be… well, not there?

Which is an excellent question.

It’s one more Christians oughta ask. Because for a number of us, we have the very same question. We likewise think God’s playing a cosmic game of hide-and-seek with us, and wanna know why he’s so silent, invisible, and missing.

In fact some of those Christians even teach God chooses to be absent: He turned off his miracles, stopped talking to his kids, withdrew himself as much as possible from the universe, and only answers prayers through natural processes and coincidence. He’s made himself impossible to find.

Why would he do such a thing? Well these cessationists claim it’s ’cause he’s trying to grow our faith. See, if he were visible, and we could see for ourselves he exists… we wouldn’t have to trust him, or the bible, or fellow Christians, when they tell us he exists. We wouldn’t need faith. So we wouldn’t practice it, wouldn’t grow it; it’d be tiny and anemic.

I grew up hearing this explanation. I still think it’s stupid.

And inconsistent with the bible. God wants to be found. 1Ch 28.9, Jr 29.13 Jesus taught us to ask, seek, knock, Mt 7.7 and make our requests known to our Father, who isn’t far away. Nor is he hiding.

Godless Christians.

There are many, many times in the scriptures where not only is God not hiding, he appears to people. He appeared to Noah, Abraham, Jacob, and Moses. For a while there, in the Arabian desert, every single living Israelite could see a massive glowing pillar of cloud and fire, hovering over their tabernacle, which had the physical presence of the Almighty in it. Did they doubt God’s real? Hardly! Not that it got ’em to follow him any better, or trust him any more.

God appears to everyone in the person of Christ Jesus, to everybody Jesus interacted with before he was raptured into heaven, and to everybody Jesus has appeared to since. God appears to everyone in the person of the Holy Spirit, and lives within every single Christian. And talks to us. Regularly. Constantly. Hourly. Those of us who practice his presence are never out of contact with him.

Among Christians who actually make an effort to follow Jesus, the Holy Spirit should be extremely active, and God should be very visible—to Christians and pagans alike. No, you won’t see a glowing man-shaped being on a throne, like they have in Jack Chick tracts. You’ll just see plenty of evidence that he’s around. You’ll hear from him. He’ll do God-stuff. We’ll do God-stuff.

That’s what we should see in every church. We don’t. Why? Duh: Faithlesness.

You can tell by their harebrained idea that “faith” is the reason God is silent. It shows they don’t understand faith. Faith is complete confidence or trust in someone. Now how can you trust a God who’s playing, “You can’t catch me! You can’t see me! You can’t find me!” even though Jesus taught us, “Seek and ye shall find”?

Is a hiding God, a trickster God, in any way trustworthy or reliable? What sort of disappearing-act God can honestly claim he’d never leave nor forsake us? He 13.5 How can we trust such a God? I couldn’t. If that’s how God behaved, I’d live in a state of constant fear. Which, y’know, explains all the Christians in the world who do live in a state of constant fear.

Why are there Christians who claim God’s silent? Because they’re not listening. Never learned how to. In fact some were actually taught to resist God’s voice, for God does not talk—and if they ever imagine they do hear God’s voice, it can’t be. Either they’re mad, or it’s the devil, trying to mess with them, or turn them Pentecostal.

I know; embracing a religion with a wholly absent God, who appears to want nothing to do with them (at least, nothing during this dispensation) seems nuts. But consider its advantages: It’s like when you were a little kid, and you imagined what you’d do if your parents would just, for once, leave you at home without the babysitter. True, there’d be no responsible adult around to order DoorDash, and take care of you when you hurt yourself shooting off bottle rockets in the fireplace. But you could stay up as late as you liked, and watch all the inappropriate TV shows you liked, and eat nothing but Oreos, and get into Mom’s brandy… that is, unless your bossy older brother tried to take charge.

It’s much the same for Christians who think God’s not around. No miracles, no divine aid; they have to fend for themselves. But they get to play church all they like, and fake holiness for the public, and make other people behave themselves, and feel good about their religious status.

How’d Jesus describe it? Something like this:

Luke 12.45-47 KJV
45 But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; 46 the lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. 47 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

I mean, that’s what I regularly keep seeing in their churches: Leaders of low character, bossing everyone around, abusing ’em, and living in relative luxury. Meanwhile they don’t produce fruit, and have to claim other things are bigger priorities in order to conceal their fruitlessness.

They take your deepest fears—that there may be no God at all—and pretty much confirm them for you: “I don’t hear God either. I don’t see anything out there. But y’know what? That’s okay. He’s playing a little game with us. He’s not gonna drop the blanky and say ‘Peek-a-boo!’ till Jesus returns. So in the meanwhile, ignore your doubts—all your doubts—and let’s keep doing as we’re doing, and hope for the best.”

You don’t want to trust such people to tell you what God is like. They don’t know him. In some extreme cases they’re not even Christian, and only think they are. You know the sort. They don’t follow Jesus at all, but they love the trappings of religion, and do that instead.

Screw that. I want God.

God’s not hiding.

When I grew tired of all the pathetic explanations from Christians who believed God was in hiding, I went and found Christians who believe he’s not hiding. ’Cause if God is active among his people, you’d figure they’d have proof.

Now, I know: The Christians who believe God’s in hiding, are gonna want people to stay as far away as humanly possible from these other Christians. It’s why they insist every continuationist church is heretic or liberal or dangerous: We’re nuts, we’re weird, we engage in freaky behavior, we practice strange things. We’re not normal.

Um… if there’s such a thing as a group of people interacting with God—the God, maker of heaven and earth—on a daily basis, should we expect them to be “normal”? Or should we expect God to affect people, and their behavior, in pretty profound ways? In ancient times, God’s prophets were regularly considered weirdos. And they were. So if I’m looking for people who really do interact with God, I should expect weirdos, and nothing less.

Back when I was searching for evidence of God, I figured if I could look past the weirdness, maybe there’d still be some God around. Turns out there’s plenty of God around.

The reason people don’t find God, or think he’s so impossible to find, is because they refuse to look for him where he’s likely to be. They don’t wanna go there. If they’re Christian, they’ll stay in their isolationist enclaves, be proudly independent, and keep God out. If they left Christianity—usually ’cause they were burned by Christians behaving badly—they’re gonna assume the weird Christians are just like the bad Christians, plus weird. They figure their best bet is to find God themselves, without any help from anyone else—like a man on a 20-mile beach trying to find buried treasure in the sand without a metal detector.

God’s not hiding. You’ll find him among the weird Christians: The freaky, shouty, wacky Christians—but loving, joyful, gracious, patient, and ultimately self-controlled Christians. The ones who actually follow Jesus’s commands and talk to him. And hear him talk back—and can show you how to hear him too.

Swallow your pride and go talk to them. They’ll introduce you to the God you have such trouble seeing.