Step Away From the Tree
“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” – Genesis 3:1 NIV
Anyone who has followed this blog from the start knows that I think about my faith and ask hard questions. Especially over the past few years, my seeking has deepened and strengthened my faith. So why, in John 16:23, did Jesus say, “in that day you will no longer ask me anything”?
Note that He didn’t say, “Stop asking questions.” He knows that we don’t see Him now, face to glorified face. We’re walking by faith; questions and doubts are inevitable, and faith’s foundation gets firmer in seeking and finding answers.
So, are questions ever wrong? I think it depends on their motivation. What are you seeking? In the Garden of Eden, God forbade Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And Satan tempted them to disobey by promising they could be like God. While the tree bestowed a particular kind of knowledge, Adam and Eve’s inability to resist could stand for all of humanity’s envious questing for equality with our Creator. In every age since, humans have come to the forbidden trees in their own gardens and coveted the fruit they think will make God superfluous.
If you’re not seeking to dethrone God, you may be asking questions as an expression of conditional belief. This misses the point of faith. An authentic believer should be past the point of saying, “God, if you want me to believe, answer this question.”
There is no sin in asking. But if we demand that God answer every question – in effect, demand that He make us like him in all knowledge, right now, or that He prove his existence beyond any need for faith – we lose sight of the goal. That is simply oneness with God. Just seek Him. And one day, we will know all the answers, not because He spoon fed them to our demanding mouths, but because we have become like Him in His timing.
I suspect that for many atheists, the barrier to belief is accepting that not everything is knowable in this life. Without a mathematical, peer-reviewed proof for God, they’re not going to accept His existence. But as I’ve suggested before, the atheist’s stand entails some decidedly counterintuitive ideas, whether the atheist realizes it or not.
Nonbelievers like to point out that as science advances, the realm of the unexplained shrinks, leaving less and less need to invoke God to solve the world’s mysteries. I am more willing than many believers are to accept the findings of mainstream science, and I cringe a little at some of the pseudoscience Christians try to substitute. But atheists fall into their own logical fallacy, which becomes its own kind of faith: Because science has continually pushed back the boundaries of the unknown, it will always do so. That could be true, but it’s not a repeatable experiment, like demonstrating gravity. At the margins of human understanding, the questions are always new.
I will keep asking questions until “that day” Jesus spoke about, and I’m happy to watch scientists discover ever more about the glory written across creation. But believers know the Author, and His story isn’t finished. We have “that day” and eternity beyond it to hear the rest.