Pause for Thought with Ray Dadswell: What Would Convince You?

Glen Scrivener describes himself in this way: “I’m not a linguist or historian. I’m a minister in the Church of England and an evangelist in Eastbourne. I write as someone gripped by the Jesus of the Bible, but I don’t presume that you share my beliefs.”

The following is part of an article written by Glen, the complete version being available on http:/christthetruth.wordpress.com

I once asked an atheist the question: “What would convince you to believe in God?” He answered: “Until God appears before me as a burning bush or I see his picture on the front of popular science magazines, I will remain a non-believer.”

It strikes me that those two kinds of ‘evidence’ represent the two kinds of ways the world looks for God. We either want the miracle-encounter or we want the rational proof. Both would be preferable, but usually people lean towards one kind of evidence or another.

Some of us say, “It doesn’t have to make sense to me, but if God showed up in awesome wonder, if He just demonstrated His supernatural powers in some out-of-this-world miracle, that would do it for me.” Others would say, “I don’t need a burning bush, just show me the equations, take me through the logical arguments, give me the scientific proof, demonstrate that it’s reasonable, then I’ll believe.”

As the apostle Paul wrote to first-century Christians in Corinth he recognised these two kinds of thinking.

Both kinds of people are saying to God, “These are the terms by which I am prepared to do business with You.” Yet Paul says that God is in the business of frustrating all such demands. He goes on in chapter one of his first letter: “We preach Christ crucified, ... a stumbling-block and ... foolishness” (verse 23).

Here is the way God shows up. In a world full of power-lovers and wisdom-seekers, He shows up on a cross. It’s not the way anyone expected. And it’s not the way anyone wants. In fact it is scandalous to the world.

The word ‘stumbling-block’ is a translation of the Greek word skandalon. It’s something that causes you to trip up. But this is how God wants it. For a people looking for signs up in the sky, God wants a big rock laid in their path so that they stumble and fall. For a people looking down into their microscopes or fine-tuning their logical arguments, He confronts them, not with something obviously wiser, but with something blatantly foolish.

The miracle-lover is given weakness – a bloodied corpse on a cross. The wisdom-seeker is given foolishness – a God who dies! It is precisely what they didn’t want. Yet it’s just what God wants preached.

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Here is the greatest miracle imaginable: someone can stumble upon the cross and say, “My Lord and my God!” In amidst this perishing world, someone can see the perishing Lord and say, “There is God’s power and wisdom.”

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You see, the living God can never be found by the earthly search for power and wisdom. Because the living God is not a super-human. He’s not like us with just a few more muscles or brain-cells. But our sinful selves would love it if He were. We have a lot invested in thinking of God as some super-despot. In many ways that would suit us just fine, because then we’d be justified in seeking to be rid of Him.

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This is why it’s imperative to lay the stumbling-block in people’s way. If natural man is seeking a god, it can only be an idol. We must give them Christ crucified. There on the cross is the living God - the God who does not stay at a distance, the God who does not glorify Himself with cheap magic tricks, the God who is not basically concerned with keeping us moral. No, this God draws near. This God stoops and serves and bleeds and dies. And He does it not to enforce our goodness but to forgive our badness.

Never give people what they want. Give them Christ crucified. When they stumble over the cross they’ll see a God more wonderful than anything they’d imagined.