We left yesterday with a question - are we a generation of doubters?
It seems that our experience of ourselves is more convincing to us than our experience of God, and the sad truth is that most Christians today have not experienced God in a way that makes Him worthy of their worship. But the question that we've posed is not so simple.
It's one thing to say that perhaps we have doubts, and that wouldn't be particularly a bad thing. Doubts are simply questions, and questions are how we grow. Every single Christian, all the way back to the disciples themselves, has had doubts. Every single person who has ever believed in Jesus has needed Him to show Himself to them. Every single believer from the very beginning of time has asked God if He is for real. Our doubts are the very things that lead us to faith.
The trouble with this generation seems to be that we no longer consider that God might be the answer to our questions. Even when we have questions specifically about God, we don't seem to go to Him asking for the answer. We don't seem to want Him to chime in on these things that are most aching to our souls.
We go to the world. We ask culture what it thinks about God. We ask our friends what they think about God. We ask our pastors what they think about God. We read books that tell us what others think about God. And we are left unsatisfied by the answers.
It's because this way that we ask, this group that we ask, still leaves this disconnect between us and God. It still keeps us one step away from Him. There is still a distance between God and His people. Because we know what everyone else thinks about God, and we assume they probably have good reason for thinking that, but we still haven't experienced Him ourselves.
So we're right back where we started - a people who have valid, reasonable questions about God who have not had an authentic experience with Him that would satisfy our aching souls. We're left in the very same place - with a God who is not authoritative enough in our life to make any difference.
This is what a culture of relative truth has done to us. It has left us with questions to which we can never get a satisfactory answer because we believe the best way to answer any question is to gather a bunch of diverse data and weight it out and make our own conclusions based on what truth is to everyone else.
Think about a restaurant you are considering trying. You look at the menu, and maybe the Facebook page, to see if it's even a kind of food that you might like. Then you start asking around. You ask your friends and members of your community what they think about it. Maybe you search for the health department's inspection records or a site listing a bunch of reviews. You take all of this data and decide that this is a good restaurant, so you go eat there. But you don't like it. This crowd-sourcing of truth has told you that something is good, but it wasn't good in your opinion - how are you ever supposed to trust that anything is good ever again?
Or maybe you decide that you don't want to eat at this restaurant. So you don't. For years, you avoid this restaurant because, based on the opinions of your friends and community, you know you won't like it. Then, your boss calls a business meeting, and you're forced to eat there with your coworkers and managers. And guess what - you like it! Actually, it might be your favorite new place. You just wasted years missing out on this because everyone else convinced you that you might not like it.
This is what happens when truth is relative; we develop a whole bunch of expectations in a world where we cannot just go out and determine truth for ourselves. If you just decided, hey, I want to try this restaurant and went and tried it, you could have avoided ALL of this mess...but that's not how we operate any more.
And it's killing our relationship with God.
We are a people who don't just go to God. We don't just seek Him out. We don't ask Him the questions that we have, even the questions that we have about Him because we've been taught that that's not how you discover truth any more. You can't possibly understand the wholeness of something by just experiencing it for yourself. And yet, it is this personal experience that is the very thing that we depend on to guide our lives by its authority (and, ironically, it is this personal experience that we are counting on others to have had to guide us in our own questions - we don't ask someone to recommend a restaurant they've never been to).
Do you see how stuck we are? It's insane.
No wonder we're headed for Tarshish.