Mahatma Gandhi reputedly was drawn to Jesus but didn’t much care for Christians – he found most of them so unlike Jesus. Gandhi’s sentiment is common. Christians can be quite offensive.
Many others, including Christians, find God offensive as well. They dislike God. And why not. Surely a good God would never allow the horrors and suffering we see on every side. Painful relationships. Hopes dashed. Dreams shattered. Efforts rendered useless. Unrelenting illness. Unanswered prayer. Pasts (and presents) from which we recoil. Why did God even create a world that He knew would contain so much pain?
God’s offensiveness doesn’t just revolve around human struggles and disappointments. He not only apparently doesn’t care about us – He even arranged the death of His own son. Who wants anything to do with a God who seemingly wields His power with indifference, perhaps even contempt? Not me. Why worship a God who seemingly condones horrors. I wouldn’t.
If that’s what God is like, IF, then I would dislike God too. I’d dislike Him intensely. At the very least, I’d have to stop writing “god” with a capital “g” and “he” with a capital “h” because, frankly, he wouldn’t deserve my respect.
How do we reconcile two apparently contradictory concepts: a good God and a disastrous world? A lot of books have been written about this issue. I’ve read some of them: C. S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain, Philip Yancey’s Pain, the Gift Nobody Wants, and Joni Erickson Tada’s When God Weeps. These are good books; their ideas help some tremendously. Others leave their pages still puzzled, even angry.
I’ve puzzled and angered people myself as I’ve attempted to defend God’s character and explain what I think is behind His willingness to allow pain. I think it has to do, paradoxically, with love. I explain that love requires choice (it can’t be forced) – that God so values love that He gives us the freedom to choose – and that our freedom to choose means we’re free to choose badly and cause pain. That makes perfect sense to me. It doesn’t always click with others. (Though they certainly demand freedom of choice before they’ll call any human relationship “loving.”)
More recently I’m shifting my approach. The issue Gandhi raised opened my eyes. I realized that people who question God’s goodness look at the world and use what they see there to define God’s character. What if, instead of looking at the world to define God’s character, they look at Jesus to define God’s character?
Jesus says if you see Me you’ve seen the Father (John 14:9). Paul reminds us that Jesus is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). Look at these quotes carefully. They mean that when we look at Jesus, we see the real God.
We may not understand or believe all the fancy logical explanations of God’s goodness. But we can look at Jesus’ goodness and know that it exactly pictures God.
Do You Dislike God? Perhaps You Might Like Jesus
© Lynne Fox, 2017