To unbelievers, a Christian’s relationship with God is chimerical. We talk to a God we cannot see, hear, or touch.
And, indeed, the object of our pilgrimage may seem insubstantial. Christian faith accentuates the past and the future rather than the present. God’s great redemptive deeds in the past. Recalling the past as well as hoping in the future. Heaven. The new Eden. The new Jerusalem. Something over the horizon. Out of sight.
To the unbeliever, God is the invisible, indetectible gardener of Flew’s famous, tendentious parable. Contrast that with real relationships; with flesh and blood friends and family.
But that’s misleading. Yes, there’s a type of solidity to many of our relationships. Yet what they mean to us is psychological rather than physical. Feelings. Memories. Gratitude. Anticipation.
Likewise, some people are very attached to a particular place. But although the place may be visible and tangible, the sense of attachment is not. That’s interior.
The space, the place, the body, the proximity, is just a medium. A token. Just like the sensible world in relation to God.
You can stand next to a friend or a stranger. Outwardly it’s the same. No discernable difference to the eye of the camera.
Moreover, there’s such a thing as nostalgia. You may cherish something or someone that’s long gone as deeply, more deeply, that what’s right in front of you.
Mortality doesn’t automatically dissove, or even diminish the emotional bond. In fact, prolonged absence, extended separation, may make the bond stronger than if you never left, never lost.
In that respect, our relationship with God is no more or less imperceptible than our other relationships.