finding faith

Last night’s Deep Thought at our church was fascinating. ‘Deep Thought’ is the name for an open discussion group where we consider big questions of life, the Universe and everything. It is named after the computer in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that was designed to answer that question and came up with the answer… I won’t spoil it for you by giving the answer, but I know some of you shouted it at the screen at that moment!

We were considering why it isn’t easier to find God. Most people in this country have declared themselves to be Christian (according the the latest census data) but seem to keep God at arm’s length or further away: only involving him when things go wrong and they need a helping hand. The vast majority of people who walk past our church each day probably don’t give God a second thought.

The discussion meandered gently through how we discover God in other people, within ourselves, in tough times, in unexpected places, in nature, even in the Bible (irony alert), and in scientific discovery! Actually he’s not quiet at all, and if you look honestly and openly you can find him!

But he seems to keep his distance as well. There are no big signs in the sky that declare that God made this. There are no lightning bolts from the sky when people ask if there is a God. And it struck me again this morning that Jesus seemed to spend a lot of his time telling people who had correctly identified him as the Son of God to be quiet and not tell anyone!

Why the distance? We felt that it is because God gives us free will and if he made himself too obvious that would override our freedom. He has to give us space and the opportunity to disbelieve in order for our choice to be absolutely our choice. Yet we also felt that God is poised at the edge of that distance, ready to respond immediately to anyone who starts to move towards him. The distance is no greater than it needs to be.

We commented on how many people had turned to praying for Fabrice Muamba. Quite what they will do with this new-found faith in God who hears prayer as he continues his almost miraculous recovery I am not sure. I suspect that for many people it will be a return to normal. But perhaps one or two will have edged closer to God as a result and will find him – in people, in experiences, in the Bible, wherever they look. Perhaps they will find him in us if we are free samples of Jesus.

Be blessed, be a blessing.

Apparently true story about finding in unexpected places:

A German “tourist” supposedly on a golf holiday, showed up at customs with his golf bag. While making idle chatter about golf, the customs official realized that the tourist did not know what a handicap is. The customs official asked the tourist to demonstrate his swing, which he did – backwards!

A substantial amount of narcotics was found in the golf bag.