“Who are you to tell me how I should think about God?” I didn’t have a good answer when the student in my office hurled that question at me. Rather than telling him what to think, I had intended to offer him some considerations in his search for God.
If we don’t take God seriously, it makes little difference what – or if – we think about him. On the other hand, if we think that God is creating the universe with purpose, it makes a lot of difference.
Many folks who claim belief in God think of their lives as a train ride. While they hope for a good trip and a pleasant destination, the train’s direction, speed and the condition of the tracks are of little concern to them since, they believe, God is the engineer. Basically they choose to board the train, decide where to sit and what to pick from the menu for lunch. Beyond that the trip is out of their hands. They may even consider it the heart of faith that they leave the driving to God.
When I first started working, a parishioner informed me, “I’m way too busy to think about philosophy. I’ve got a life to keep together. Just tell me what to do. You went to school to learn that stuff. I trust you.” I was never sure whether I was being complimented or dismissed. Probably the latter, though nicely.
No one can prove that God isn’t driving a train on which we’re merely passengers but that’s certainly not the God Jesus believed in. And, though you can’t always tell, it isn’t the God of the Christian Tradition either. God promises that we’ll ultimately arrive at the destination of human fulfillment but it’s our train and our ride: we pick the route and choose the speed. To some that’s atheism: if God isn’t driving, then God isn’t real. But it’s not atheism; it’s simply accepting adult responsibility for life and the freedom God gives us that’s necessary for love.