I meet some people who are deeply offended by God. I am sympathetic to the hurt that it implies. I expect God might be also.
They don’t like to think they are dependent on anyone. They don’t like the judgemental ways that he goes about things. They might have read his books and seen him waging pitiless war. They might have seen a contemporary war and wondered what God was doing with all that omnipotent power that he/she/it would leave the innocent to suffer so. If he is so distant, why bother?
They may have been abused by one of God’s representatives, a father of the church or a father in their family – that would permanently traumatise their heart. They may not like to play a game where he can keep silent and they are supposed to guess what’s on his mind or that he is even there.
Why join a church when that has such a patchy record in kindness and atrocities? Why read a bible that does the same? Why repent when what I need to know is what I am good for? Why turn off sexual desire when it is one of the very few unambiguously beautiful things I can honestly give myself to, and you said it was god-given anyway? Why are they asked to pray when few prayers for help are actually answered? Why the big call to place their trust in a God who seems to make it up as he goes along?
Some say he looks like Jesus, some say he is the Koran, and others that he is nothingness itself. Some don’t like the male-language, some want experience and not more mountains of words, some just wish the whole complex confused and nasty business would just go away and talk to itself.
Lastly, why in church do you sing such terrible songs?
Nope, no answers. I am trusting God for a whole lot of things. I dont find him to be absent. One big thing – I dont think God sets us up to say a prayer and get magic puddings. I know there are answers, serendipities, the odd miracle I have seen, synchronicities, coincidences, guidance, ‘nudges’, the kindness of strangers, the ridiculous right thing at the right time, things that are just ‘meant to be’. I also know I am a ‘sent one’ – sent into the world to love my neighbour and that there are terrible things that should not be the way they are. I have seen people change, but speaking personally not as much as I would have liked. For that shortfall, regrettable understandable, heinous and selfish, I am sorry. For the mask which I easily wear I am sorry. For a church that covers its arse rather than risk the way of Jesus, I am sorry. But I could be saying the same about doctors, police, politicians, teachers, banks, businesses, trade unions, etc… It flashed on me once, an epiphany some might say, that the reason so much suffering goes unaddressed is because God keeps telling people to go and deal with it, but they wont go.
SO, though it is an imperfect vehicle for a treacherous journey, I am a part of church, and in my lifestyle choices the best thing I can do is be a follower of Jesus, getting out of myself moderately often, doing the right thing occasionally. As a consequence it still surprises me that as I look backwards across the church’s histories it is a better world than the slippery slope near to my right and to my left…. That is not meant to be offensive or to put it onto you, I am just saying what I experience here.