Thank you for recommending this podcast. I’ve listened to two episodes and found it challenging, but also affirming (which I would guess was their intention.) In episode two I was particularly challenged by Drew Marshall, the radio host who lost his faith after thirty years. He presented a very powerful metaphor of God as a father and asked the question if God is a loving father why would he hide from us. He compared it to a loving father playing hide and seek with his child but every time the child turned to find his father, his father would move behind his back until it would leave the child distraught. His point was a loving father would not hide himself from his children, he would show himself and yet God is not readily present in our lives.
To be honest, I found the metaphor a powerful argument against a loving Father being real. Thanks be to God that as I thought more on it, the Lord gave me some insight into the problem of his metaphor. As most metaphors it lacks an honesty of the possibility of another solution. In the metaphor, God, the Father, in some cruel joke, refuses to reveal himself to his children showing God is not loving at all, if God is real. The problem is that his explanation is not the only reason for a loving Father not to be more readily present among us. In fact, I believe the scripture gives us some insight into why a loving Father, who is also a most Holy God cannot be near us if he is truly loving. The metaphor does not take into account holiness and evil. That as was said so many times throughout scripture, God who is perfectly good can never have anything to do with evil. And so we might have to change the image, to a more biblical approach, that the children in the story have chosen to not only do evil but delight in it and for God to come near them may mean pain, suffering at the presence of a Holy God, and ultimately destruction. The Jewish people believed (and I believe rightly) that to see the face of God someone could not live because he was so Holy. If that is true would a loving father be near his children if it meant they could not live. Instead, a loving father would be far from his children to not cause them suffering and pain and destruction at his presence.
But this is where Jesus comes in. A loving father would find a way to be near his children. If his children refused to turn from their wicked ways what would he do? Could it be possible that he would find a way to take the pain, the suffering, the death upon himself for their unholiness. Could he possibly find a way that would make them Holy and clean, and that they could be joined together again without pain and destruction. If that was possible, wouldn’t loving father do this? Well God has. In the person of Jesus Christ, God not only made himself manifest in our mortality, revealed himself to us through Jesus, but made a way that Isaiah tells us would be called the way of Holiness, it would bring us to our loving Father again.
We still live in a world were sin, death and evil are present but God has begun a work in Christ that the scriptures tell us will ultimately lead to our making our homes with God, where God will dwell among his people and will not be far. Under the constraints of free will, of love, of justice, of evil, of holiness, and grace God has begun a work to be with his children forever. We can argue that we wished there was another way (as we often do). But thank God for his grace and love and forgiveness that there is a way at all, and praise God that a loving Father would not let go of his evil children who still refuse to come to him in the person of Christ.