Why Does God Hide? Why Doesn't He Just Make Himself Obvious to Us?
The questions about evidences usually come about because some people just 'cannot believe' unless there is 'clear evidence.'
But consider this – what would it take for you to believe? Would it take a miracle, or a divine announcement? I submit to you that anything that is declared evidence for God would not convince the skeptic. A medical miracle would be explained away (this happens all the time.) A divine announcement would be written off as hysteria (as has happened in the past.) Virtually everything presented as evidence is accounted for by natural means, by someone who only believes in 'natural means.'
Perhaps we should contemplate how God would choose to reveal Himself, and search for this, instead of making our demands of evidence upon God, because
"..the world in its wisdom did not know [God.]" 1 Corinthians 1:21b
In other words, how would an Omnipotent Being reveal Himself to finite beings? For honest pursuit, we must make sure that our presuppositions are not clouding our thought processes. We've discussed presuppositions previously – these are the pre-conceived notions we bring with us that can get in the way of clear and impartial thought and analysis. No where are presuppositions more significant than in the ways we view the most important things in our life. If I assume that I can never know for sure if God exists, I will likely look skeptically upon all 'evidences' for God. An assumption that the 'evidences' proposed to me are false does not necessarily make them false, just like wishful thinking doesn't bring about the wish. So in short, an open mind with a goal in mind is required for objective analysis of the evidences that God has claimed to have provided us.
The issue of 'Divine Hiding' has been asked of God many times in the Bible. Even Jesus was admonished to announce His position to the world by His brothers (John 7:3, 4b) and also by His disciples (John 14:22.)
"Jesus' brothers said to Him, "You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do…Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world."" John 7:3, 4b
"Then Judas…said," But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not the the world?"" John 14:22
His answer gives us a clue into the mystery of God's 'hiding:
"If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me." John 14:23a, 24.
Christ claimed to be answering the question of Divine Hiding for God, as well as for Himself. The answer is not what one might expect. We would perhaps hope that He would have answered something to the effect of "I must hide so that you may pass the test of faith" or "I'm not hiding, I'm very obvious" or maybe even "OK, I will make my miracles and signs obvious to every man so everyone knows I am God." But no. Instead He gave us a mysterious statement speaking about OUR LOVE AND OBEDIENCE! WHAT HAS THAT TO DO WITH GOD'S HIDING??!!
When this clue is combined with other examples of Jesus' statements, perhaps the reason becomes more clear. To summarize what Christ's answers mean, consider the following assertion in our analysis of Jesus' answers:
Just before Jesus made this cryptic answer to Judas, He gave another clue:
"Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." John 14:21.
"Show myself to him" He said. This is a little more clear now. Is Jesus saying that if He is to be seen by us, we must love Him? Does this argument seem circular? By that, isn't it unfair to say in essence that "we won't find God unless we believe in God?" Absolutely not, when the rest of the situation is clear.
Consider this: Is the knowledge or acknowledgement that God exists what God wants us to know? Clearly, the answer is NO. A person could believe, or even know, that God exists, and still HATE God. So God is not interested only in our knowledge of Him. What He desires is a personal relationship – a filial relationship. With philosophical contemplation, we could understand that God is a First Cause, or a Source of Morality, or a Creator. But this intellectual assent does not cause or require personal interaction. Blaise Pascal clarified the point "God wishes to move the will rather than the mind. Perfect clarity would help the mind and hurt the will." God is not interested in simply being a point of knowledge.
God's purpose for having this personal relationship is to transform us to be more like Him
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10
To reject God's means for evidence is to reject God's plans, and to in the end reject God. In this regard, it would be improper for God to force His will upon us…what is morally appropriate is for God to make His presence available to all of us, for us to pursue.
In Natural Theology, we have plenty of clues. From the discussion of the A-B-C's of God's existence, we see that, if our presuppositions are looking for God, God has left us many clues, from the Awareness and yearning inside each of us, the incredible Bible that is a book like no other book, and the Creation that simply cannot be explained with natural terms. With a God-focused pursuit, these 'evidences' pull us along the path to knowing God in a personal way.
In summary, we will truly know God when we are in a relationship with Him, and do as He asks us to. If we do not, we cannot expect to ever recognize God as obvious as the sun is shining.
We know that we have come to know him if we obey His commands.
1 John 2:3