When Christians Act Like Atheists

Today we think about one of the oddest actions in the world. No, it isn’t when people who don’t believe in God act like they don’t believe in Him. It isn’t when people who are iffy about God act like they don’t believe in Him. No, the oddest action to me is when those who say they believe in Him act as if He isn’t doing anything in life.

Consider this example that I used awhile ago: Johnny is hurt by someone. He hears God’s Word telling him to forgive that other person. He says, “I can’t forgive them – it’s hopeless.” Do you hear what our man Johnny is saying? He is saying, “Forgive? Forgiveness isn’t possible because there is nothing in the world that can make this situation any better.” Do you hear the inherent disbelief in such thoughts? It is essentially atheism at the relationship level. We do not believe that God is at work in our painful relationships, so we lose heart. We give up. We refuse to forgive.

Do you ever find yourself in such a situation? Paul wrote to a man like that: Philemon. Philemon had experienced betrayal. He knew pain. His former servant, Onesismus, had betrayed him. He had been betrayed and then Onesimus had run from him. That same Onesimus was now returning with a letter from Paul. That letter is our book of Philemon. It is full of hope for Onesimus and Philemon. Paul believed that restoration was possible. He believed a new relationship that would be rich and rewarding was in their future.

Now comes the tough part – do we see Paul as a starry eyed idealist or a man who understood pain and had a real answer for it? How we answer this question tells us whether we are relationship atheists are not. I know, we couch our response so well in words that excuse our atheism. We say, “It takes two.” We say, “I can’t make them like me.” We even say, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” These statements can all be true. Yet, it has nothing to do with forgiveness. It has nothing to do with whether we can believe that God will work a miracle. Isn’t that what miracles are all about? The real test of our Christianity is not saying we believe in miracles. It is when we need a miracle and we act like one may come that we really pass the test.

Something to think about,
Pastor John

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