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The do-nothing God

By John Draper ~

I want God’s job.

The guy never has to do a bloody thing and people still throw rose petals at his feet.

No, no, no, believers say, indignantly. God is “active in my life”!

But what do they mean? For my part, I’ve never had a miracle occur in my life. That is, nothing’s happened to me that I couldn’t explain through natural processes. I say that as someone who was mentally ill the first 10 years of his Walk With Christ. I had all sorts of people lay hands on me for healing. To be fair, I didn’t really think of what I was going through as something I needed to be healed from—a disease. I didn’t know what it was. I just wanted it gone.

And then I was given a little pill and—poof!—it was. Ten fucking years.

Likewise, I’ve never met anyone who has had a miracle occur in their life. I’ve met a lot of believers who know someone who has had a miracle occur in their life—or know someone who knows someone.

Probe a bit. Here’s what I think you’ll find about God being “active” in believers’ lives.

In my experience, believers only see God’s activity in their life in hindsight. In the moment, they’re oblivious. No one says, “I’ve really been feeling empowered by God lately.” Noone coasts through the Christian life, not even Pentecostals. It’s always a slog. They say things like, “I’m being tested. I think God is trying to teach me something.” When you ask them what that lesson might be, they’ll usually say, “To rely on God.”

But . . . why should you rely on God if He does nothing? What do you have that unbelievers don’t have?

When believers talk about God’s activity in their lives, what they mean is that God has given them the strength to endure the hardships He won’t remove from their lives.

When believers say God forgives them/is patient with them, what they mean is that God hasn’t punished them. In other words, he has done nothing.

Most of the time, believers don’t get what they pray for. When they don’t get it, they say that it’s because God in His wisdom determined the thing they were praying for wouldn’t be good for them. Once again, He does nothing.

Do believers overcome obstacles in their lives? Absolutely. But I don’t think they overcome them in higher percentages than nonbelievers. In other words, they get no boost from their belief.

The amazingly good things that do happen in believers’ lives—inexplicable reversals of cancers, for example—happen with the same frequency in nonbelievers’ lives. Which is to say, almost never.

Believers also point out that coincidences that occur in their lives are actually God-incidences—that is, explainable as the activity of God. But they know that’s a stretch. In fact, it takes faith to insist the coincidence is being directed by God—because all signs seem to say otherwise. It just looks like what it is—a coincidence, which occur just as often to nonbelievers.

Even what believers call their love for God—it’s really just their yearning for Him in His absence. C.S. Lewis was full of baloney when he said “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” I have yet to meet a satisfied believer.

Most believers have come up with rationalizations for God’s apparent inactivity. Why was there only one pair of footprints on the beach when I was going through hardship, Lord? That’s because I was carrying you. They say what really matters is how God changes you. He who began a good work in you will carry it to completion and I’m am the Vine. You are the branches.

Well, there, too, I don’t think God is active. In my experience, after 35 years of devout belief I was essentially the same person I was when I started. It’s the same for all believers. What people mean by becoming Christlike is God gives them the ability to restrain their animal impulses. They’re still as lustful, prideful, vain, etc. as they were when they converted. They still have their animal impulses because, well, they’re animals. For my part, I just had to take my foot off the pedal a bit and I was as crass as I ever was as a frat boy.

When I say stuff like this, believers pile on, insisting otherwise. One guy said he knows an addict in his church who has done a complete 180. I said, you don’t know that. You only know what he tells you—and addicts always lie. Another guy said he himself had just been healed of drug addiction—instantly, without withdrawals. My response was, let’s wait a year and see if you’re still sober.

Am I a cynic? I suppose. I prefer the term realist.

The truth is that God is not active. Sometimes life goes your way. Sometimes it doesn’t.

We’re on our own, which is not to say there’s necessarily not a God. I think there probably is—He just isn’t who believers think He is.