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Is anyone there?

December 2002 | by Philip Swann

Did you see Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001; A Space Odyssey? I was taken to see it when it was first released in 1968 – and had to be taken out because I was frightened by the apes!

When it was re-released I tried again, but this time I fell asleep before the end! Since then I did manage to see it through – and was left confused as to what it was about.

But recently I read a review suggesting it was about man and God. It is an interesting idea.

Curiosity

The film draws on our curiosity as to what there might be ‘out there’. This is more than a 21st-century Hollywood phenomenon – as human beings we are naturally curious.

Curiosity helped you learn to talk and walk. It fuelled the exploration of our planet and expands the frontiers of science. If necessity is the mother of invention, then curiosity must be its father.

And because we are curious, we are still asking the same questions: ‘Who are we and what is life’s purpose?’

Perhaps it’s just the way we are. But this is too simplistic. The Bible offers a more radical explanation of our quest. It says we are made ‘in the image of God’.

Aware of God

This means (among other things) that human beings have an instinct for God’s existence. Every nation and community has its religions and ‘acts of worship’.

This ‘God awareness’ is unique to human beings. It is not something you see among elephants or chimpanzees. The Bible says God gave it to us that we might seek and know him.

This is a wonderful idea, but does it work? Do we know and enjoy God’s presence in our lives? The answer is surely ‘no’. In reality, God seems very far away.

Isn’t this why many people ‘turn to religion’, all over the world? And even if we are not ‘religious’, isn’t our pursuit of satisfaction (and our superstition!) evidence that we are all, in some sense, looking for God?

God seems remote because we ‘lost’ him when we broke his laws. He is perfect – but we are sinful and live in a sinful world. We have lost the privilege of knowing God personally. All we know is that there is ‘something out there’.

Where is he?

So, where is God? The Bible’s good news is that we don’t have to glimpse him, like a passing comet through a telescope. Neither is there some cosmic code we have to crack to find him. Instead, he has come to us.

In a small town called Bethlehem, 2000 years ago, God came into our world. Jesus Christ lived here for 33 years and then departed. But while he was here, he was busy doing the one thing we all need – constructing the way for us to know God.

By his perfect life, his sacrificial death, and his mighty resurrection, he cleared away the barrier between God and man created by our sins. He did all that was needed – so that people like us might know God.

The truth is not ‘out there’ but ‘in Christ’. We have his word that he will not turn away anyone who is honestly looking for him.

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Evangelistic