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Where's God?

Is God an absentee landlord? Jesus says yes.

(Our pastor preached on this passage this week, dealing specifically with leadership; you can listen here.)

How do we deal with God's presence and His absence? It's much easier to choose one or the other and stick with it. One route is to chant "God is good, all the time" to the exclusion of the broken world around us, the pain inside us, and even Scripture itself (which, while it supports God's goodness, doesn't include this phrase and would certainly critique its use to drown out reality). Another is to act as if the discovery of His absence somehow negates faith—questions like "why do bad things happen to good people?" usurp God's sovereignty; His authority isn't recognized unless questions regarding His absence have been answered to our satisfaction.

It's certainly OK to struggle with the ways in which God is absent. In fact, it's dangerous to avoid it. But the discovery of His absence is by no means revolutionary—Jesus taught about it two millennia ago—and doesn't diminish who He is in the least. Both His presence and absence are to be part of the fabric of our faith. For me, there's great freedom in realizing that I haven't uncovered Christianity's deep, dark secret by wondering where God is. There's humility in it, too. And, perhaps most preciously, there's hope.

Comments

I think I tend to forget how much responsibility God has given humanity when it comes to our authority in and over his creation. It's easier for me to think - oh, I'll let God handle this one - than it is for me to understand that I can't pass it all off. Lazy as I am, this isn't always the most natural reaction for me.

I tend to not think of an absense in a negative light, but in the same way I would think about letting my kids grow up and be independant - confident that I've given them all I can to help them be responsible and successful.
The sermon was really good about delving into some aspects of what you're talking about (e.g., why does God see fit for us to experience His presence and absence through other people?).
Breathing this in.

Disappointment with God

Yancey's book deals with this topic. Would love to see what you think of it....
Oh my, the timeliness of this is awesome.

May I have permission to share this post (only this post) with my philosophy class and a few colleagues of mine with whom I have been chewing on this of late?

Thank you SO much for posting this.
Absolutely—no problem!

This is something that I think I have a hard time swallowing. It's good to continually be reminded that God's absence has nothing to do with lack of love, it is, in fact, the opposite.

Thank you Obi.
You're very welcome—we can all use some reminders.
thank you I needed that
One thing I've learned only lately - God's quietness is not His absence. He doesn't speak unless He has something to say. He doesn't show up unless there is something He wants to accomplish. Just because He's quiet doesn't mean He's gone away.

It takes trust to accept that but when you do just trust that He's there even when He's quiet, it does quiet the clamouring of your spirit. There is peace.

That clamour for Him to be there all the time is a way of putting Him to the test as well and we all know He hates that - it limits Him. To be at peace in His quiet times gives Him freedom to come and go more readily.

Well, that's been my experience anyway.
This is an awesome post, it signifies everything I struggle with.

happy birthday

dude-yotta happy birthday. You still rock.

Re: happy birthday

Thanks, sir—I'm just now beginning to recover from the craziness of yesterday (thankfully, some of it was fun, too).