We are alone, absolutely alone on this chance planet: and, amid all the forms of life that surround us, not one, excepting the dog, has made an alliance with us. — Maurice Maeterlinck, Belgian playwright and poet
As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord is thinking about me right now. You are my helper and my savior. Do not delay, O my God. — Psalm 40:17, NLT
Which is one reason I enjoy solitary hikes in the desert; I can walk for hours without seeing or hearing another human being, and I love it. I feel rejuvenated afterward.
I can sit on a boulder and hear nothing but the breeze singing in the saguaros and the distant, piercing cry of a red-tailed hawk and imagine that I am completely alone. But am I?
Are we alone? Well, of course not in a world with more than 6 billion bodies all elbowing each other for space.
This is a God-question. It’s a world view question. It’s a way of asking about our significance, whether our lives have any meaning beyond what life consists of here, in this short span of time that we are part of history.
When David wrote “the Lord is thinking about me right now”, he imagined something stunning. God — the eternal, creative ruler of the universe — contemplates all that we have done and will do, considers our thoughts and words and actions, makes plans for us and even directs the circumstances of history, shaping it with us in mind.
This is the world view that Christianity posits. If we are stranded on a desert island, we do not need a volleyball for companionship and comfort. God sees us, God hears us, God even speaks to us.
On the side of men like Maurice Maeterlinck, it is noticed that God is (unhelpfully) invisible and apparently silent. When I am sitting on a rock in the desert sun, I may believe God is watching, I may even believe there are leprechauns hiding among the trees, but that hardly makes it so.
When I was young and drifting off to sleep in my bedroom, I would sometimes imagine monsters watching me from inside of my closet, and I was terrified at what they might do to me.
But there were no monsters in my closet, and my strongly-held beliefs didn’t make it so.
Moses, the Old Testament leader, claimed that God spoke to him. If there really is a God who thinks about us, you might expect him to attempt to communicate once in awhile. Many of the Old Testament prophets claimed to hear God’s voice, and many of the words written in the Old Testament are alleged to be direct quotes from God himself.
Post-modernism tends to reinterpret these ancient accounts in non-literal ways. They are ancient, after all. They make claims that seem naïve to us in this technological age, and many today find them unconvincing.
Which brings us to the interesting case of Jesus. He, too, claimed to hear God’s voice. He performed unprecedented miracles, e.g., calming a storm, walking on water, healing incurable diseases, raising the dead.
Jesus went beyond the usual prophetic bag of tricks, however, in two very significant and related ways: his words and his claims about his identity.
His words, his teachings, seem remarkable even today for the way they reinterpreted and clarified what had been taught before. He spoke with an air of authority and wisdom that was quite unusual for a man from such a humble background.
His surprised his listeners. He never seemed stumped by their questions. He was a man of purpose, and his purpose seemed entirely focused on pulling back the curtain to reveal the invisible God.
His claims about his identity were more amazing still: He claimed to be God himself, appearing in the form of a human being.
Two good-old-boys in Georgia recently claimed they had the body of Bigfoot crammed in their freezer. It has turned out to be a hoax, but many were taken in by it.
On the surface, the case for Jesus as God isn’t any stronger. Ancient texts make claims about things that happened a long, long time ago. No videos, no photographs, no DNA to sequence. Just words.
But what remarkable words!
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
“Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”
Then He asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because My Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.” — Matthew 16:13-17, NLT
Perhaps we are entirely alone, and these ancient texts are merely the deluded hopes of some sun-baked religious fanatics.
Or, perhaps God exists. Perhaps he is thinking about us at this very moment. Perhaps the man, Jesus Christ, who claimed to be God’s Son, really was, and is.
It’s one of those questions we must answer for ourselves. It doesn’t require great learning or sophisticated labs filled with gadgets, just time spent reading the words of Jesus and the testimony of those men and women who knew him.
Are we alone, or is God thinking about us, and waiting patiently for us to acknowledge him?
Photo credit: Unknown, from Photobucket