“Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: “I am looking for God! I am looking for God!”
As many of those who did not believe in God were standing together there, he excited considerable laughter.
“Have you lost him, then?” said one. “Did he lose his way like a child?” said another. “Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? or emigrated?”
Thus they shouted and laughed. The madman sprang into their midst and pierced them with his glances. “Where has God gone?” he cried. “I shall tell you. We have killed him – you and I. We are his murderers. But how have we done this? How were we able to drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon?
What did we do when we unchained the earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving now? Away from all suns?
Are we not perpetually falling? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space?
Has it not become colder? Is it not more and more night coming on all the time? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning? Do we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we not smell anything yet of God’s decomposition?
Gods too decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we, murderers of all murderers, console ourselves?
It has been further related that on that same day the madman entered divers churches and there sang a requiem. Led out and quietened, he is said to have retorted each time: “What are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?”
God is dead. What a frightening thought. To think that the universe spins out of control, perched delicately on an axis that He created, seconds or minutes or hours from the moment when the centrifugal force proves too much and the inevitable tumbling into oblivion takes place.
To think that he is gone, that our lives spent in loving service have been for nothing and no one except for a God who no longer exists.
We are faced every day with more proof that God is indeed dead. We watch the televisions here in America every night; see the massacres in Rwanda or the Genocide in Croatia. We see the young black men killing themselves in record numbers or hear stories of mothers tossing babies into dumpsters or selling them into child porn for a fix.
We as Christians insulate ourselves from the harshness of the world that we live in rather than deal with any of these things. We need more reality positioned about two inches from our face because that is the world we live in. Not the frilly interior designed pre-fab world that Christians surround themselves with.
Rather it is the dark dirt, the black-foaming sewer of real life that is right outside our doors.
It is the view of a world living in the reality of a dead god. And we have created that reality for them. We the Christians have killed god for all intents and purposes.
Like the movie from a few years ago called Weekend at Bernies. We show up for our Christian get-togethers lugging in tow a dead body that we try to present as alive. We kneel in church buildings when we should. We say all the right words. We have a spiritual excuse for every single wrong that happens.
Like a magician who specializes in luring the eye away from where it should be, we are common street hustlers and our hustle is religion.
We tell everyone that God is alive and well. We add to our repertoire several stories that we have heard that help to corroborate this fallacy. Then we sit back and perfect our inner spiritual journey while the world feeds on the filth of its own demise.
And we call it good.
We stand bloody-handed over the body that housed God. And then add insult to injury by painting the corpse up in some mock imitation of whatever representation we need at the moment. We carry that corpse up into whatever building we can afford and prop him up for all the world to see. Not to gaze at the awesome power of the creator, oh no. No, we instead prop him up so that everyone can tell that we have managed to tame him. We have him controlled by our dogma, our statement of faith, our by-laws and boards.
Its safe to come in with us, we cry, look how peaceful he is!
Shocking? Maybe. But it is also the truth. This world is dying everywhere around us while we compromise. The masses are herded over the cliffs of eternity while we posture. It is unbelievable to me. It is incomprehensible how some people can continue to choose to be asleep in the light while the world burns.
And yet here we are. Beyond all reason, here we are. We continue to worship the monument rather than the creator. We continue to make cheap excuses and formulas rather than dare to ask the questions. And so we have killed God.
We have killed him in the minds of the world that surrounds us. They see our blatant disregard for the tenets of the faith and stand in transfixed awe at our stupidity. We posture as if he is alive and blessing us but where is he?
When I see preachers in some churches driving overly expensive automobiles and being given sympathy cruises to the Bahamas, I hope that God is behind the blessing.
But I have gone out to the reservations to preach to the First Nation. I have worked with the homeless kids in downtowns across America. I have seen the preacher on the reservation that no one cares about, who works three jobs to provide not only for his family but for the church as well.
I have prayed with the preacher who has quietly endured a living hell so that the sheep are safe. I have hugged and loved the AIDS victim living out his last moments in a free hospice and been told that no church has ever come to see him because he is gay.
And I scream at the sheer audacity of these charlatan thieves. The world thinks God dead because we have settled for the lie. Rather than dare to live in the reality of God, we choose the safer path.
The disease of the church is systemic and real change can only come to it from outside of it. The church speaks to themselves for themselves and shine one another’s unused armor while the world burns and the graveyards fill with the bodies of those who have lived and died in a world where God was dead.
I know many of you recoil at me saying that God is dead over and over. But let me ask you, if he is not- could you tell me what he looks like?
Is God clean or dirty? Is he rich or poor? Is he beautiful or ugly? Is God a capitalist, placing money above the needs of the poor and degenerate among us? Is he a Republican or Democrat? Is he a socialist or communist, placing all power in the hands of the state and stripping people of their rights and identity? Is he middle class, upper class or lower class? What does he look like?
I used to think that God looked like a TV preacher or an ancient Greek God, high up on the mountain hurling lightning bolts.
But now I know the truth. God looks like the suffering, the broken and the wounded. God looks like the homeless man and the hopeless drunk. God looks like the one you would least expect because his heart is just not in the same place as ours is.
In the film Entertaining Angels, Dorothy Day, exhausted from a life of serving the outcast and the poor, runs to a church to pray. Looking up at a statue of Jesus, she breaks down and appeals to him in a raw, heart-wrenching way.
She says to God: “Where are you? Why don’t you answer me? I need you! These brothers and sisters of yours, the ones you want me to love, let me tell you something. They smell! They have lice and tuberculosis! Am I to find you in them?—Well, you’re ugly! You stink! You wet your pants! You vomit! How could anyone love you?”
But she did love them and by doing so, she loved Christ.
So, I have this to say, friends. God is not dead. We are. We have forgotten whose we are and whom we serve. We have been playing marbles with diamonds. And shame on us. Shame on us for what we have done.
But remember this one thing; Leonard Ravenhill said that revival is what happens when God gets so sick and tired of being misrepresented that he shows himself.
We need a revival of remembering, a revival of humility and meekness. We need a revival of the genuine selfless love of Christ. We need a revival of purity, power and hope.
We need a revival of true Christianity in an age of Laodicean compromise.
Because the world doesn’t need our churches or our programs, they need our Jesus and no one is talking about him anymore.