The age old question: “Does God exists?” finds a most appropriate answer. This is a true story which happened a couple of decades ago to a pastor in Los Angeles. It retains unfaded its freshness and immediacy, simply because it reflects truth, and truth doesn’t ever decay.
The young man had that dead sureness that cover adolescent insecurity. “I don’t believe in God!” he roared as he strode into my office unannounced.
“Want a cup of coffee?”
I got it for him without his approval.
“Sit down. Tell me what sort of God you don’t believe in. Maybe I don’t believe in that sort of God, either”.
He stepped on my lines. “I don’t believe in a god who allows child molestation – like that McMartin school deal, or a Christopher Bernard Wilder kidnapping, murdering and raping that 16-year-old, a god who allows wars, El Salvador…”.
“Cream and sugar?”
“Cream only, thanks… and world hunger, and, and, just all this hopeless mishmash.”
I gave him his cup and looked out the window: people, seas of them, milling in the streets of this concrete wilderness called Los Angeles. My mind went back to the days of tea and crumpets at Oxford, that lovely summer just after the war. I remembered C.S: Lewis, the Oxford don, telling of his conversation to Christianity and the thought processes that led to it. I thought of a conversation with a fine young friend who went to Vietnam, never to return.
“This war to which I’m going makes no sense. Life makes no sense. The world is totally irrational.”
I looked him squarely in the eye.
“Bill, you just made a rational statement and that fact eliminates the idea that this world is totally irrational. If it were totally irrational, who would know it? From where do you think that rationality came?”
I turned and posed the same question to my young coffee-drinking friend.
“That logic won’t hold with me, I’m an atheist.”
He was the fifth teen-age atheist I had met this week. It is a psychological experience more than an intellectual conclusion.
“Logic usually doesn’t set too well with an atheist – nor facts, “I said to him. “The term atheist means that you know there is no God. To say you know there is no God means that you have learned all the truth there is in the universe and there is no God. Have you learned all there is to know, or is your atheism, like my Christianity, a statement of faith?”
He turned toward to me in the chair.
I continued: “In one of our previous conversations, you told me faith was the last resort of the stupid. Now, here you are making a statement of faith about your atheism… or do you know everything?”
“Of course not.”
He was beginning to get a little angry with me.
“If you don’t know everything, then how do you know God doesn’t exist outside your learning and experience?”
“Then you are not an atheist, you are an agnostic.”
“Yes, I guess that is what I am.”
“What you have just told me is that you don’t know what you are.”
His steam began to pour out. “Exactly, and what sort of God is it who lets people not know who they are or what they are. How can I know who he is when he won’t let me know who I am?”
I asked my friend what he was studying in college. He was in advertising.
“Suppose you owned an ad agency and God wanted you to tell the whole world exactly what he is like. How would you do it?”
He picked up the challenge. Taking a legal pad from my desk, he drew a line down the middle of the page. On one side he wrote “method”. On the other, he wrote “problems”.
The first method he wrote down on this worldwide God-advertising program was, “Start a religion.” Then he scratched it out and wrote, “Divisive. Too many of them already in existence.”
Then he inscribed his next suggested method: “Put it in a book.” He immediately vetoed that because “half the world can’t read.”
One after another he wrote, considered the flaws, then marked them out.
Finally, he looked at me and smiled. “My problem is that I can’t seem to find a universal oneness, one thing that every human understands, with which he can identify, love and comprehend. If I could discover that, I would know how to advertise God to the multilingual, multiracial world.”
Then he picked up his pencil and wrote, “If I wanted to universally advertise what God is like and how he acts, I would recommend that he become a human being.”
On the problem side, he wrote “none”. Then he laid down his pencil, looked up at me and quietly said, “Jesus Christ makes sense.”
He was right.
Jesus Christ is that sense without which all other sense is nonsense. He became what we are as a matter of communication from God as to who he is and what he is doing.
Christians believe God so identified with us that he solved three great questions all science has not been able to fathom:
The problem of sin.
The problem of sorrow.
The problem of death.
Rev. Jess Moody