God has many different roles in the world, creator, ruler, judge, savior, sustainer, to name a few. And He isn’t always everything to all people at all times. To us he is friend and savior, God and father, Shepherd and brother, among others. We look at our imperfect lives and yet feel and sense the love of God despite our sins. And we cannot imagine God in any other way. But he is not that way to all people. To many he is none of those things for they hate Him. Oh maybe not in a conscious personal way seeing how many worship some god in their life and assume that what they worship is the Who They Should Worship and so by doing so they throw contempt on God Himself Whom of what little they know of Him they ascribe to the thing they pledge allegiance to.
Back in Paul’s day, it was many and multiple gods the people bowed before, and for many today it still is multiple gods. For some it is Allah or Jehovah but neither of these are the Father of the Son. Still many today claim they worship the Father of the Son but distort the truth and why? It is because they do not know Him personally. They in their fallen state have conjured up a thing to worship that sounds good to them. Even so there are millions more you have no formal religion who worship a good and benevolent god who hopefully will accept them into Heaven because they are basically good people who do more good than bad,
And in every case with these false religions they discount how holy the One True God is, and therefore they fail to see sin as horrendous as it really is, For in every false religion the path to Heaven is gained and held by good works. Now many of these people are humble, some to a fault, but at their core is a self righteousness or at least a hope of self righteousness that in the end on the day of judgment will preserve them before the Great and Mighty Judge.
For many of them, there is an air of self righteousness, like a Pharisee, who believe that they are already good enough for God’s Heaven, and they ignore sin as a temporary abstract unless it is someone sinning against them!
The goal of both kinds of people is to squash the conscience that condemns them, either by rationalization or some other method. And some do have their consciences hardened.
But for both God is Judge and any real contact with Him is terrifying for His avenging angels could be perceived as demons and maybe some are. They seek to avoid any temporal judgment because for them, in reality, this world is the only one that matters. And the gods they fashion from it to comfort themselves in moments of true lucidity continue to mask the reality of their lives.
Now let me take you back to OT times. In Israel there were true and false prophets. How to tell the difference, was the question. One answer was to look at their life words and stone the false prophets who got things wrong. Best not to make too many predictions or at least make them far along the time line. But what about non-predictive words from on high? How could the people know which prophets were true and which were false? We certainly can read of various times in the history of the people where they had a plethora of false prophets and also sought to kill and did kill the true prophets. The shepherds led the people astray numerous times and brought judgment down on the nation by the Judge including times of destruction and captivity.
And what about the other nations? God didn’t even provide a way or a path to Himself. He didn’t go into Egypt to save the Egyptians. He didn’t evangelize the Philistines. He called Abram OUT of the highly populous place into the wilderness. And what about the millions in India and China?
God as a benevolent savior remained hidden from these other people groups. And he allowed false prophets to lead even many of the Israelis astray. They still feared Him as Judge. And they sought to mitigate their condemning consciences in myriad ways. But there was no way of grace open to them. It was only open to a small band of Israelis amidst a slightly larger band of Israelis. Of all the people of the earth, only a small amount of people knew the way of grace and salvation.
So i ask you, is this God we serve so much different than the one in the OT? Does He now seek to save most/all people whence before He ignored them salvifically? To most, even here in USA, God is more Judge than Savior; more some to appease to gain life than someone to love and worship because He has given life.
And yet we know Him as the most wonderful awesome life giving love sacrificing Creator Sustainer brotherly Fatherly Unifer friend and Holy Righteous savior who in knowing Him trumps all the riches and pleasures of the world put together. Does the world know Him like we do? we tell them but they do not believe us. Why do we see Him in His great Glory and they see Him as our crutch?
Could it be that He remains hidden from them by His own purpose? That their sin has blinded them to any chance of seeing Him as he is, or even to get a good glimpse? And that we see Him by His grace to us through Jesus and in seeing Him, in glimpsing Him even somewhat, we love and adore Him and willingly abandon the world to serve Him?
Maybe we put too much value on the importance of man and too little value on the Holiness and Righteousness of God that we could never imagine a God who prefers Holiness to humans.