It was in 1882 when Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher first made the shocking statement, "Gott ist tot." God is dead. And as a confessing and believing Christian, teacher and leader, I must confess that I agree. Allow me to explain.
God is not dead in any objective sense. He lives and reigns in the heavens. He upholds the Universe by the power of his hand. And in the person of Jesus, He intercedes continually for those of us who believe the Gospel. God is not dead in the way a person is physically dead. This is not what I mean or what Nietzsche meant.
So what did he mean?
Well, simply put, he meant God was now irrelevant and belief in him served no real purpose except as a polite fiction. A philosopher or theologian would say that God serves no “teleological” function (telos, end or purpose). He has no purpose. Nietzsche’s purpose in saying “God is dead” was to point out the absurdity of an absolute moral code without a belief in God. He foresaw the twentieth-century’s global rejection of a transcendent moral order and the resulting bloodshed with clarity.
What do I mean though?
Actually, when I say “God is dead,” I mean something a little different. Again, he is not physically dead. But for so many people in this town and ten thousand more throughout the Bible Belt and beyond, God is believed in and even called a Savior and yet is irrelevant. He plays second fiddle (at best) to wealth, beauty, sex, Sports – our kid’s sports, jobs and every other thing under the sun. Education is only a way to get more money and support your family and never a way to know more of the reality God created. He is patronized with a visit to church on Sunday and Monday he is ignored. We buy and sell and consume and give not a thought of whether any of it will betray to the watching world that God reigns…or even exists. For so many God is dead. And he is dead for those who will cancel life with all its demands and then move heaven and earth to remove a blemish from their face or watch a game. But they will treat the pursuit of “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” like a hobby.
The good news is that God does have a purpose and it may not be what you think it is. God exists for God. The chief end of God, according to John Piper (and the Bible) is the glorification of God, himself. If God had affections for anything higher than himself he would be an idolater. He alone must be, for all eternity, riveted upon the exaltation of himself. And this should not surprise us. Consider 1 Peter 3:18, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God…” In other words, God the Father sent God the Son to die in our place so that we might get God. God did not send Jesus so God would get us. God sent Jesus so that we would be able to glorify God for his mercy (Romans 15:9).
Perhaps, for those whose lives betray a belief in a virtually lifeless God, they have assumed that God was fixated on their value and not his own value. They have exchanged the truth of God for a lie. And so placing themselves at the center of all reality, they think very little about the Sovereign God of the Universe. He might as well be dead.But God, treated as dead beckons, “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” he says Come and see “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God” (Isaiah 55:1,2; 2 Cor. 4: