On Easter Sunday we proclaimed that the Son of God: “He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed.” As Christians, we asserted our faith is based on our living God (Psalm 42:2).
A recent article in our local newspaper1 posed a question that has been around for a long time: “Is God dead?” The answer might seem obvious. It certainly was when the question appeared on the cover of Time Magazine in April 1963; a flood of responses said, “no.” But I wonder how it might be answered today.
Atheist philosopher Friedrich Nietzche (1882) rephrased the question as a declarative statement. He was not referring to a god who had died recently. He meant there was no place for the Christian belief in God in the post-Enlightenment period. In his mind, Europe no longer needed God as the source for all morality and order in the universe – philosophy and science would do that for us. The Enlightenment age closed at the end of the 18th century, but the world continued to move towards replacing God with self-serving philosophies of power, money, and rationalization of what is right and wrong.
Writers in the 20th century tried to reframe the answer to the God question by claiming mankind had killed God by their self-centered attitudes. My firm belief is you cannot kill God; He is everlasting and omnipotent. But you can try to replace Him. How you answer the question is dependent on who or what is your god.
To believe in God starts at the intersection where we realize we are not God. We are unable to fix the bad things in life. At the intersection we have to choose which direction to go. On one hand, we hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6) and we cry out in our need (Psalm 72:12). Like the prodigal son, the Father reaches out to us, to be our shield and our source of strength (Psalm 28:7). We cannot always provide hard, factual evidence of God’s care, like a miraculous disappearance of cancer cells from our body. But the indwelling of the Spirit gives us calm assurance whenever we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, when we pass through raging waters of trouble, or when we find ourselves surrounded by flames of iniquity.
Those that choose to go in the opposite direction may admit they are not a god. They do, however, reject God in favor of seeking other gods: riches, material possessions, drugs, or the illusion they can sidestep responsibility and accountability. Such gods, though, are just dead ends, literally. God’s grace affords people on this destructive path the opportunity to turn around, what we believers call repentance. The Lord is calling for them to turn around, but if they have been on this path for a long time, their hearts may be hardened (Hebrews 3:15) and eternal death awaits.
Nietzsche wrote, “I am afraid we are not rid of God because we still have faith in grammar.” The atheist was closer to the truth than he realized. Faith in what the Bible says, with its inerrant grammar, is the reason people can find the Lord. Spread the word: God is very much alive and active.
1 It depends on your God, by Johnny A. Phillips, in The Daily Reflector , April 9-10, 2021
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