What’s the best way to convince someone God exists? And how do you get those who have no interest in God to listen when you talk about Him? In his book, God: A Biography, Steven Mosley shares a risky experiment he conducted while leading evangelistic meetings in Osaka, Japan. Mosley wanted to find some way to impress his listeners with the fact that God is real and He cares about them. Most of them had no previous experience with Christianity and were used to thinking of God as an impersonal forces that controls nature, rather than a personal Savior who cares about each one of us. How would he overcome this misconception idea and convince them of God’s great love? He explains:
“The fact that God is known through His actions had been weighing on me. I figured, if God acted for sinful Israel in the Old Testament and skeptical Greeks in the New Testament, why wouldn’t He act for these modern unbelievers who were at least looking His way, even if they didn’t see much? So I proclaimed that this week of meetings would be one big experiment. Gathering each night in small groups, the group leaders encouraged their members to identify specific needs in their lives. They then challenged them to discover through prayer what God would do about it, helping each one find a relevant promise in the Scriptures. These promises were not meant to be magic formulas, but simply a means for the leader to show his members what kind of prayers God answers. Finally, we explained our belief that we can approach God through Jesus Christ and we showed each one how to pray in His name.”
“At the end of the week, I asked the leaders for their results. What I found surprised even me! Every person who followed through on the experiment received a definite answer. One young man had been sick and was worried about falling behind on the job. After praying about it, he found that a girl he’d previously misjudged as being selfish had done his work for him. A woman shared her desire to see her mother’s grave in America. She received an unexpected invitation to visit her daughter in the U.S. A businessman who wanted a red tie even prayed for that. If I’d been his group leader, I would have suggested something more spiritual. Here we are trying to reveal God Almighty and this guy wants a red tie! But I wasn’t there to administer my wisdom. So the man conducted his experiment and was pleasantly taken back when a salesman walked right into his office and sold him a red silk tie.”
What was Mosley’s conclusion based on his experiment? He writes, “None of these ‘answers’ was overwhelming. None would have forced a committed atheist to make room for the supernatural. But what a gracious touch they proved for each person asking! The petitioners perceived subtle nudges, notes written back with a hint of affection saying, ‘Here I am, over here!’”
More important, what do you think about all this? Do you think it was safe, and would you dare to lead people to Christ by pointing them to His goodness? If you’re still in doubt, consider what Romans 2:4 says: “Do you despise the riches of His goodness, tolerance, and patience, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” In other words, after everything is said and done, it is God’s goodness, not intellectual arguments, that attracts people to Jesus Christ. The reason Paul wrote what he did in the book of Romans may have been due to his experience preaching to the idolatrous people of Lystra. Although they were not worshipers of the God of the Bible, he was able to grab their attention by reminding them: “God has not left Himself without testimony; He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; He provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” (Acts 14:17)
Or consider Psalm 116:1, a psalm I’d like to focus on this week in my posts. Notice the Psalmist’s reason for loving God: “I love the LORD because He has heard my voice and my supplications, because He has inclined His ear to me. Therefore, I will call upon Him as long as I live.” The reason the Psalmist loves God is because God in His goodness has answered His prayers! So how can we hesitate to point people to God’s goodness? Instead of being risky, I believe it’s the very best way of proving His existence to them, because whether we realize it or not, God has been good to each one of us every day of our lives, and not only to us, but to all the children of men. He has faithfully given us our daily bread and provided us with everything else we need for life and happiness.
That’s what I want to focus on this week as I continue our study of God. So far, we’ve considered His holiness and the fact that He never changes. But this week I want to highlight the one attribute that just naturally draws people to Christ, and that’s His goodness. For that reason, I hope you’ll not only take time to reflect on these thoughts, but to share them with someone trying to make up his or her mind about following Christ. Tomorrow we’ll look at what it means when we say that God is good. I guarantee it’ll provide more food for your soul.