What is the purpose of God requiring his followers to trust in One they can’t directly see, touch, feel, smell, or talk to?
This has become a real head scratcher for me. I know of no intimate human relationships in which one person deliberately makes himself or herself scarce, doesn’t return calls, goes away for long periods of time, and sends ambiguous or mixed messages via courier - as a way of deepening their partner’s faith and trust in them. The chief effects of such behaviors – which amount to neglect, when you come right down to it – are usually a loss of trust, love, affection, and ultimately the breakup of the relationship itself. Yet somehow in a relationship with God, the very same behaviors on God’s part are expected to (and sometimes do!) increase the adherent’s faith.
But how and why is faith such a big operative in God’s economy to begin with? Does it have something to do with our free will and ability to choose God on our own volition? In other words, if we all regularly encountered God in a burning bush, might we be so overwhelmed by the Almighty that we could do nothing other than choose him? And because God values our free will that much, he does not want to skew our ability to choose by visibly revealing himself to us? I don’t know…that seems pretty shaky given that Satan got to hang out with God in heaven yet he was still able to deploy his free will to rebel against God.
I also wonder about the fact that in Old Testament times God did seem to reveal himself to man on occasion… but after Jesus any truly personal, tangible, earthly, direct encounters with the Divine pretty much disappeared. How come? Has faith in things unseen become more valuable, more important to God somehow in New Testament Christianity? If so, why?
Which circles back to the question I started with: what is the point of having "faith in things unseen"?