Why We Need A God: A Plea To Nihilistic Americans

Does Everybody Have a God?
What do we love? What do we place our hope in? What do we value? The way that we answer these questions will usually help flesh out our god. In other words, we could essentially say that everybody has a god, with a small ‘g.’ Everybody has someone, something or some ideology that they value, love, rest in and expect good to come from. Even in our age of secularism and the absence of the sacred, mankind still strives to have a sense of esteem and assurance; a feeling of completeness. Mankind will always have a god.

Where Does This God Lead Us?
But you may say, “God is dead. We are way past the ill-logical and barbarous days of mythology from the past. This is the 21st century!” These previous statements sure do capture the spiritual climate of our day and age. However, let’s carry this out a bit further. If there is no existence of divine order to the universe, no divine plan, no outside force/god in which society is governed and mankind is the lone center of the universe, what does this mean and where does this lead us? It means that mankind is the lone source of meaning and that mankind is only as good as the strength, force and wisdom that mankind can muster up. Man becomes his/her own god. Mankind is alone. This means that autonomous humankind is now responsible for acquiring their own meaning, straining his/her will to actualize that meaning and then privately dealing with their own emotional, physical and spiritual pressures of being an isolated autonomous being. Mankind is led to self.

Does Everybody Need a God?
If mankind is indeed the lone source of meaning in this life, how does mankind cope and survive with the pressure of being the only active cause in the cosmos? The pressures of carrying this autonomous and isolated ideology will lead to despair. As an individual attempts to be their own god through carrying the pressures of life, defining their own meaning, working at actualizing their will to that meaning, granting self-comfort and defining their own narrative they will feel the insurmountable weight of their own self-chosen aspiration of being god. It is clear that mankind inherently is not designed this way. There is a need for the sacred, a need for something outside of ourselves, and a need for us to be acted upon. Everybody needs a God… something outside of themselves.

Is There A God Outside Of Us?
The God of the Old and New Testament Scriptures is shown to us as a God who is all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful, eternal and our creator. The God of the scriptures is a God who created us; gave us purpose and design. He is a God who is all knowing; wisdom and reason are derived from Him. He is a God who is all present; the questions of life are held in His providence. He is also eternal; He is not restricted to this life.

What About This God Of The Scriptures?
From the historical beginnings of time mankind has constantly turned inward on self. We aspire to have it our way, to be autonomous and to exert our free wills. We turn to rebellion. However, this very aspiration of turning inward on self and attempting to be the sole source of all divine, creative and unknowable eternal mystery is the very thing that curses us. Instead of turning to the God of the scriptures for everything, we revolt and run to other gods instead. We drink sweet poison thinking that we are edifying ourselves, when the exact opposite is true. Things are not always the way they appear to be.

This God of the scriptures though takes a different approach. Instead of turning inward, He turns outward towards mankind, His creation. In the motive of divine justice and divine love He pursues mankind in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus became flesh and made His dwelling among us. Wisdom comes to us. Life comes to us. Divine love comes to us. Jesus lives a life that is completely opposite to ours. Instead of being turned inward, He turns outward in complete obedience towards God the Father and outward in love towards those around Him. He lived in a way and manner that we did not live and cannot live. Furthermore, we see that the Christ moves towards His death with the mission and plan of offering Himself up as a sacrifice to make things right with God the Father on our behalf. Jesus chooses to die for our self-chosen rebellion. Jesus came not to acquire meaning from us but came to give of His life for us as a ransom payment; a selfless giving life for selfish lives. This is the essence of meaning.

What Does This Cross Mean?
The ultimate exchange of Jesus on the cross for our rebellion is what gives us peace with the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present, eternal and creator God. In and through Christ we have been reconciled to a new narrative, a new way and a new story. Though we live in the shadows of this life and our own bodies, things of the immediate and visible present do not define us nor supply our story. We no longer are left to the self-condemning trap of looking inward for meaning, purpose, esteem, hope, and comfort. Rather we look outside of ourselves to a God who came to us and continually comes to us in the Word and Sacraments.

About Pastor Matt Richard

Rev. Dr. Matthew Richard is the pastor at Zion Lutheran Church of Gwinner, ND. He was previously a Senior Pastor in Sidney, Montana, an Associate Pastor of Spiritual Care and Youth Ministries in Williston, North Dakota, and an Associate Pastor of Children and Youth in Rancho Cucamonga, California. He received his undergraduate degree from Minot State University, ND and his M.Div. from Lutheran Brethren Seminary, MN. His doctor of ministry thesis, from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO, was on exploring the journey of American Evangelicals into Confessional Lutheran thought. Pastor Richard is married to Serenity and they have two children. He enjoys fishing, pheasant hunting, watching movies, blogging, golfing, spending time with his family and a good book with a warm latte! To check out more articles by Pastor Matt you can visit his personal blog at: www.pastormattrichard.com.


Why We Need A God: A Plea To Nihilistic Americans — 6 Comments

  1. Interesting that the people who would say they have no god are determined to make others follow theirs!
    E.g., this morning I read that a German court in Cologne determined that circumcision of male babies was “child abuse”. It should not occur until the child was of age and could decide for himself whether he wanted to share his parents’ beliefs.
    [The child was Muslim, but the Jews in Germany are understandably upset by the ruling!]

  2. But you may say, “God is dead. We are way past the ill-logical and barbarous days of mythology from the past. This is the 21st century!” These previous statements sure do capture the spiritual climate of our day and age.

    This is indeed the 21st century. It’s the age of science and of the internet. Skeptics are no longer last centuries’ lone outcast. Because of the internet they’ve discovered that they are not alone and that it is ok to doubt, ask questions, and to challenge authority. And if your plea is to the skeptics of this age then you’ll have to provide real evidence that gods exist or you’ll not get their attention.

    The God of the Old and New Testament Scriptures is shown to us as a God who is all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful, eternal and our creator.

    Really? Why should we believe the Old and New Testaments? It it because you believe that they are the literal words of a god? Can you prove it?

  3. I don’t think many “skeptics” are turning to BJS for enlightenment.
    Some drop by occasionally to amuse themselves.

    Don’t lay it on too thick, Kitty. 😉

  4. If you would like to see a good example of the advancements that the enemy has made in recent years, an excellent post to keep an eye on is http://www.FFRF.org

    I have been doing some writing on atheism, and this is one of the more powerful organizations of that group. It is responsible for the atheist billboards, bus ads, and coming television ads.
    I think you will find it interesting and eye-opening. This group claims that its aim is to keep intact the “separation of church and state”, but you will immediately note that this is not its true goal.

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