Are You a Christian Atheist?

2 11 2011

The moment I picked up Pastor Craig Groeschel’s book, I realized how simple and yet profound its message would be. Furthermore, I knew I had to find some way to create a message series around it at Quest. The title of the book? The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living as If He Doesn’t Exist. Even as a follower of Christ for the last 21 years, I was challenged and convicted by this book and I quickly realized that I am a recovering Christian Atheist and I pastor a church full of people in the same boat. Not only that, but I’m convinced that everyone who considers himself or herself a Christian struggles to fully center their lives around the message and call of Jesus Christ. So the question becomes, if you’re a Christian, what areas of your life are you living as if God doesn’t exist?

Are you trying to follow Jesus, and even doing many things in his name without truly knowing him (Matthew 7:21-23)? Or could it be that you call yourself a Christian but struggle to receive God’s love for YOU; something that the founder of the Methodist Movement, John Wesley, experienced for the first 35 years of his life. Or maybe you say you believe in God, but your actions suggest that you don’t really believe in prayer. Is it possible that you’ve received God’s forgiveness, but you yourself are unwilling to forgive someone in your life? If so, you’re slipping into Christian Atheism (Matthew 18:21-35). Or how about this – do you call yourself a Christian, but you’ve never really experienced lasting life change? Could it be that you are a follower of Jesus, but when push comes to shove, you put more trust in money? Maybe you say you love God, but if truth be told, you’ve never really told anyone who isn’t already a Christian about your faith. Or maybe you’re reading this and you say you believe in Jesus, but you don’t want anything to do with His bride, the Church. Or maybe, if you’re like me at several points in my faith journey, several of these describe you.

Regardless of what symptoms of Christian Atheism you exhibit, the truth is, we’re all a work in progress. Condemnation is not my goal. Rather, as a group of us recently discovered in our Christianity Explored class, it is better to find out the truth about ourselves while we still have time to do something about it! And the truth about ourselves is this: we have a problem. The problem isn’t just that we’re doing a poor job following Jesus. The problem is much deeper than that. We all have a heart problem. None of us is good enough to fix ourselves on our own. Thank God that Jesus came for the sick and not the healthy (Mark 2:17). The key is for you and me to recognize that we’re sick. When we pretend that we have it all together – when we pretend that everything is okay – when we fool ourselves into thinking that we’re better than we really are, then we not only miss out on receiving grace from God (because we don’t think we need it), we also give a false impression of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. It’s never about meeting a certain standard or following a bunch of rules. Rather, following Jesus is about recognizing our tremendous need for his love and being transformed by receiving his grace.

So if you, like me, are a recovering Christian Atheist, take hope. Recognize your shortcomings and don’t hide them. Acknowledge them and surrender yourself once again to the love of God that will meet you where you’re at and take you places you could never go on your own.

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