Putting aside all the usual objections to God existing, what difference would it make in a person’s life if God really does exist?
I wondered about this from a rather practical point of view, because I’ve based at least fifty years of my life on God existing, and what difference has it made in my life? And has that difference been noticeable to others who’ve known me through the years too?
So what difference would be noticeable? Well, how about what Paul wrote in Romans 15:2-3, that “Each of us should please his neighbour for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself.”
And that would surely be noticeable, because not pleasing oneself is hardly the driving force in people’s lives today, and certainly not to one lady who told me recently, “From now on I’m only doing what pleases me.”
So in not making pleasing myself my priority in life I’m providing a clear comparison as to what difference a belief in God makes. And it also happens to be the one thing that would change the world if we were all able to do it. If we could all live to build each other up, rather than live to please ourselves, imagine what kind of world we’d have instead. It would be wildly and wonderfully different to what we’ve got at present.
But isn’t this what turns people off God and Christianity, the idea that “not pleasing oneself” means not enjoying good food, not playing golf or watching movies, or not spending hours buried in a favourite hobby? Is that what Paul meant, though, in these two verses?
No, it isn’t. In context he’s talking about “bearing with the failings of the weak,” verse 1, and who does that nowadays? It’s a traditional school sport to pick on other kids’ weaknesses, and a source of great personal pleasure to adults as well, finding fault in politicians, employers, neighbours, other races and nationalities, spouses, other people’s children, and how people dress, talk, look or treat their animals. It’s open hunting season all year round on social (more like unsocial) media unearthing people’s failings and digging for skeletons in their closets.
Wouldn’t it become highly noticeable, therefore, if I as a teenager did not do that on social media, or as an adult I didn’t join in the character assassination of a work colleague?
But to do that takes a power I don’t have naturally. The pressure to follow the crowd and not be seen as different is huge. To be different brings out the bully and scoffer in people, and who likes being ridiculed and picked on day in and day out?
But we’re Christians to show how wonderfully and radically different a person’s life becomes for believing God exists, compared to what drives people naturally. And it took a whole chapter in Romans 14 to remind Christians of that, stirred by some old-timer Christians who’d been picking on new Christians for not eating meat or drinking wine, and for giving sacred significance to certain days (verses 2,5 and 21).
So rather than “bear with the failings of the weak,” these old-timer Christians put pressure on the new Christians to get with the program and put these silly ideas behind them. But not, unfortunately, to the benefit of these new Christians, because these so-called “silly ideas” they had were matters of conscience to them. They really thought what they were doing was what God wanted.
So Paul told the old-timers to back off if these new Christians showed even the slightest signs of distress at being picked on or pressured to change (Romans 14:15). And that’s not an easy thing to do when it’s the chance to prove your spiritual superiority and greater wisdom.
But because it’s so difficult it then becomes a grand opportunity to show what difference a belief in God’s existence can make in a person. It can turn a self-pleasing, superior-minded bully into a sensitive, unselfish peace maker. And what a proof God exists that is, because only supernatural help can do that.
A simple question like, ”What if God really does exist?”, therefore, really comes to life in the difference it makes in a person if he does exist, and in ways that are visibly and radically obvious. And in ways so desperately needed too, in a world where pleasing oneself to build oneself up and look down on others are such a driving force behind one’s dealings with other people, and look what a mess we’re in because of it.