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Why Does God Seem So Distant?

“Why does God seem so distant?” Have you ever asked yourself that question?

This excerpt from chapter 4 addresses what I believe is the central issue in our relationship with God.

     After eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam and Eve wanted nothing to do with God. When they heard God walking in the garden of Eden, they hid from him among the trees. When God called out to Adam, “Where are you?” Adam offered a lame excuse for hiding. When God asked Adam what had happened, Adam blamed Eve for giving him the forbidden fruit, and he blamed God for giving him an inadequate helper. Finally, when God asked Eve what she had done, Eve blamed the serpent. After eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve did all they could to avoid God, and when God brought the truth to light, Adam and Eve refused to take responsibility for violating their personal relationship with God.

     Yet despite all that Adam and Eve had done—the betraying, the covering, the hiding, and the blaming—God didn’t give up on his relationship with humankind. God pursued Adam and Eve again and again.

     What overwhelms me most about God’s pursuit of Adam and Eve is not his undying commitment to humankind; what overwhelms me most is how God’s reaching out to Adam and Eve seems to contradict a fundamental tenet of the Judeo-Christian belief system. Central to both Judaism and Christianity is the doctrine that sin and sinful beings cannot exist in the holy presence of God, but in the garden of Eden drama—the story that explains when and how sin entered the human race—God is portrayed as one who reaches out to sinful humanity.

I don’t know what you were taught as a child, but I was raised to believe that sin cannot exist in the presence of God, and therefore, God had to banish sinful people from his presence. Why? Why was I lead to believe that God abandoned us, that he turned his back on me, when the story of Adam and Eve clearly teaches that God pursues us again and again?

Maybe instead of asking, “Why does God seem so distant?” we should be asking, “Why do we distance ourselves from God?” Maybe our “search” for God is actually our running from God; maybe it’s God who is searching for us.