’If God does not show Himself, nothing you can do will enable you to find Him.’
– C. S. Lewis
‘If this religion boasted of having a clear vision of God, and of possessing Him plain and unveiled, then to say that nothing we see in the world reveals Him with this degree of clarity would indeed be to attack it. But it says, on the contrary, that man is in darkness and far from God, that He has hidden Himself from man’s knowledge, and that the name He has given Himself in the Scriptures is in fact The Hidden God (Is 45:15). ‘
– Blaise Pascal
‘A religion which does not affirm that God is hidden is not true.’
Why does God hide Himself? Wouldn’t it make sense to perform one Grand Miracle, for all the world to see so that everyone would know that there is a God, instead of deliberately hiding Himself from humanity?
Perhaps it would; perhaps it wouldn’t. Belief in God, however, doesn’t seem to be the general aim of Christianity – though it no doubt is a part of it, and indeed a necessary part. But mere belief simply doesn’t seem to be the end of Christianity. Even the demons believe that there is a God…
If simple knowledge of God were all that Christianity was about, it would be nothing more than gnosticism (being saved by what you know). But this is patently NOT the central ideal of Christianity – one is not saved by what one knows but rather by what someone else did. If I’m trapped in a burning building, I certainly am aware that firefighters are paid to rescue me from this situation – I may even know what kind of equipment they use. But simply knowing that does nothing – I’m not out of the fire until I’m rescued by a fireman.
So if the central aim of Christianity is not simply knowing that there is a god, what is it? It is to be united with Christ – and to be united with someone requires a close, intimate relationship. The New Testament paints a picture of a God who loves us closely, in a deep and personal way – not in an individualistic way, but in a personal way that in uniting us with Him unites us with all others who are united with Him as well.
But what has this to do with God hiding Himself?
‘You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.’
We have within us a genuine need for God – a God-shaped vacuum, to paraphrase Pascal. God wants us to seek Him. He has set eternity in the hearts of men – all men have in their deepest being a longing for something not of this world. But we are not alone in searching for God.
‘The genuine seeker of God will find that he is also sought by God.’
But make no mistake – this is no subtle form of Pelagainism – a denial of mans sinful nature. We don’t simply of our own willpower seek or even want God – the very act of seeking God is indeed an act of God in itself. We are indeed free to resist God – as one is free to resist a fireman trying to save one from a fire. But we cannot come to God on our own account.