I read one of many great, eloquent points in C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity last night:
When you come to know God, the initiative lies on His side. If He does not show Himself, nothing you can do will enable you to find Him. And, in fact, He shows much more of Himself to some people than to others -- not because He has favourites, but because it is impossible for Him to show Himself to a man whose whole mind and character are in the wrong condition. Just as sunlight, though it has no favourites, cannot be reflected in a dusty mirror as clearly as in a clean one.This resonates with me. I think that some people would disagree with this, but it sounds right to be that God will not -- or possibly cannot within the system he chose to create -- show himself to people who do not want to find him. For example: I know for a fact that loudmouth atheist Bill Maher is not going to have any glimpses of God any time soon. It could be because there is no God. Or perhaps it's because people like Mr. Maher have closed themselves to the possibility. To borrow Lewis' example, the likelihood of experiencing God as a cynical, anti-theistic person is about the same as the likelihood of learning about the stars while observing them with nothing more than reading glasses. You are your own instrument for seeing God. Whether you have the power of reading glasses or a massive telescope is up to you.
So this all sounds plausible to me. As I've mentioned, I've been frustrated lately that I've still never "felt" God's presence, even since I've been pursuing it in earnest. I'd slowly started to start to explain this to myself as, "I guess there isn't a God. Question answered." But then I came across this idea above. I believe now that I cannot rule out the existence of God until I have tried making myself the type of person to whom God can reveal himself by a) going to church regularly and becoming a part of the Christian community and b) trying to act Christ-like, even if I'm not sure I believe in him.
This sounds like a good plan. But here's the problem. When I hear that in order to discover God I need to make a leap of faith and sort of force myself to be convinced by assuming he exists and acting like he exists, it starts to sound sort of cult-like. It seems like I'm hearing, "Yeah, that's ok that you personally see no evidence of the God described in the Bible and don't feel on a gut level that he exists. Just force yourself to believe and then you'll see him!" While the C.S. Lewis quote above does ring true, so does this counter-argument that it's just an eloquent case for brain-washing.
I mean, don't Sciento1ogists and other shady "religions" use a similar argument? There is probably some person out in L.A. right now struggling to believe in Sciento1ogy and being told, "Just open your mind and act like all this is true and you'll eventually believe it."
So I'm at an impasse. I don't want to feel like I'm brainwashing myself into religion, that I'm so desperate for some sort of God to exist that I'm just going to act like he does until I believe it to be true.
So I turn to you readers: any insights here? Any suggestions? I'm excited to hear your thoughts.