Giveaway: The Plainspoken Series

May 16, 2017

Nickels and Dimes Times

May 16, 2017

Are You an Atheist or a Glass Stomper?

May 16, 2017

There are people who say they don’t believe in God.

In our own moments of faith and confidence, we look at them wonderingly and think they must be crazy deluded, or else they’re lying to us.

Because God is obvious.

He’s everywhere, all around us, as far distant as the stars and as close as our own heartbeat. The world could not function without Him; there would be no pleasure, no thought, no morality, no meaning. Reality would be a myth; there could be no existence.

But then . . . we see other people, and they are church people, full of programs and plans. And we think that that even though they say they believe in God, they must be lying. Because they don’t. Not really. Not down in the deep places of the heart where believing in God actually makes a difference in a life.

I read a blog once that I will never forget. In it a man was talking about the Church. He was saying that young people are leaving the Church, and what can we do to hold them? We need better programs, he said. A more relevant message. If we don’t figure something out soon, then soon there will be no Church.

And I could see, clear as glass, that this man did not believe in God.

He did not believe, from what I could tell, that God had created the Church or that God sustained the Church. He did not believe in the call or empowerment of the Spirit or in the final reigning victory of Christ.

He believed only in Programs and in the efforts of man to fix those Programs. By extension, he must have believed that man owned the Programs and, by further extension, that man had created the whole concept of the Programs, and the whole concept of God, in the first place.

I learned a term from my friend Gina over at Home Joys for this phenomenon. It is called practical atheism.

Practical atheism is saying you believe in God, and then living a life that shows differently. It is investing in programs instead of prayer. It is saying you trust your children to God, and then building a system of elaborate rules and regulations to hold them in place. It is saying you believe God holds the stars in his hands and maps the course of the future, and then going around stoop-shouldered, like Atlas, with a stone in your heart and the world on your shoulders.

It is stepping gingerly into the glass box from the Sky Deck of Willis Tower, like my sister and I did recently, and believing that if you stomp too hard or lean against the glass, you will plummet 1,353 feet to earth. Or it is refusing to step out at all, because while in theory you believe that three layers of glass half an inch thick will hold you . . . in reality you just can’t take that chance.

Practical atheism is trying very hard. It is walking the line. It is holding your breath. It is worrying and fretting and building walls. It is the opposite of peace, of letting go, of relationship.

Don’t be a practical atheist. We have too many in the world already, and everything they do is man-centered and man-sustained and exhausting.

Relax. Lean in. Stomp your feet to test the soundness of the floor. We have a God who can hold us.

***

P.S. I am currently holding a giveaway, and there’s still a week left to enter. If you haven’t already heard about it, go here.

11 comments

  1. It is true there is a magnificent universe. It is true there is a great mystery that underlies this universe. What is not true or probable is that some particular entity with extremely narrow parameters is the one true God. Many thousands of years after humans needed to feel they were not alone, many thousands of ways to seek solace or help or make rules or most importantly, cheat death have been created. And part of this endless search solidifies into anointed Ones or books or bibles or shrines or holy letters to be followed with rigid devotion until the next great belief system comes on the scene. And in every case schisms eventually tear these increasingly narrow beliefs to shreds.

    Therefore, before a faith completely ends, It erodes with this argument. MY way is the REAL way. The rest of you are pretenders. 10,000 brand of Christian faiths alone. Take your pick. Then never budge. Always certain that Your Program is God approved.

    I cannot say there is no prime mover but I can say SHE is never going to embrace a tiny point of view.

    1. Dear Grandma,
      The one true God is not narrow, nor does SHE embrace a tiny point of view. 🙂 We agree on that. I am glad you do understand and embrace the concept of this great Power far beyond our comprehension.
      I think, in your comment, you are talking about religion or different people’s sets of beliefs. Religion and belief are very different than the personal faith in the Creator which I was speaking of in my blog post. True faith comes from a personal relationship and connection with the Creator and can never be destroyed.
      Love, Me

  2. I see God everywhere . . . and agree with Blake “To see a World in a Grain of Sand
    And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
    Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
    And Eternity in an hour.”

    Many of my friends in the writing world are atheists or agnostics, but I’ll leave judgment to God. My job is to radiate Christ’s love.

    Your photo is edgy – hilarious!

    1. The photo is to the credit of my creative sister Elizabeth. She was like, “Let’s not just stand here. Let’s do something interesting.” 🙂

  3. Hi,
    After reading your post, I must say this is a very deep discussion/topic/issue. I suppose if one has only ever been a member of a church that is run on ‘programs’..then that is their norm, its their church world view. If they attended a church that wasn’t like theirs; then they might wonder why people still attended, what holds them? and perhaps realize that something or someone greater had captured their hearts.
    I’ve attended many different churches in my time: Non instrumental Church of Christ, Pentecostal movements, Conservative Churches, also explored New Age beliefs, Hare Krishna, you name it, I’ve investigated it. After 10 years or more of all that I returned to the quiet simple truths contained in the word of God that I was taught in my early twenties; I returned to and never really left ‘prayer – my ongoing conversation with God). I returned to the narrow way which leads to life in my heart and in everything I do. The word of God is wise, it covers every gammet of human experience, emotion, need, behavior, mistake, success etc etc. The key is faith..without it the words in the bible seem like nonsense…with faith, a key is turned and a whole new world is revealed.

    It would be interesting to be God for a minute (forgive me) and to be able to truly see into peoples hearts..to know those who truly love and fear the Lord (revere) and put their whole lives in his hands, trusting him through endless difficulties and then those who simply attend church, because that’s what they do; its their culture, their family, friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents attend etc…and if they didn’t do that, what else would they do, where would they go? I often ask people of faith – if it was just you and the Lord on a desert island, would he know you? Do you have a relationship?

    A friend I know pretty much lost her faith once, when she was separated from her big church, her youth group, fellowship etc I could never understand that? Some people are imprisoned for years, with no visitors, no bible and yet they are released and the intimacy they share with the Lord is even stronger and their faith is through the roof. So faith really is not dependent upon what church you attend, how often or what theology your pastor believes/teaches. What matters is that you have a real faith in the living God and are intimate with Him – that you walk in His strength, that you seek His counsel in all things, that you know Him and His ways, that you fear Him, that prayer and soaking in His words delight and nourish you – that you enjoy the fellowship of other believers.

    I believe faith to be quite mysterious and definitely a pearl of great price, that few will find and even fewer desire to commit to wholly. I believe intimacy with God is something developed over time (and nothing to do with programs lol), alone, through struggle, commitment and discipline…and the fruit is just so sweet. It’s something I find hard to explain to people. While yes, I can study the word of God with them, present the Lord to them, display him through my life, but in the end – few choose Him. Why? Basically, like I said its mysterious. People will choose science, reason, anything but this God, that requires our all. The world today is all about self. Sacrifice, surrender, submission and unconditional love are considered dirty words. Few will take up this cross and even fewer will carry it till the end.

    Blessings to you – Linda

    1. Linda, I deeply appreciate this thoughtful and thought-provoking comment. I shared it with my mom, and she also appreciated your words. One thing that really struck me is your words about faith being a mystery. So true. I’ve often wondered why some believe and have this connection with God that no one can take from them, while others seem to have no comprehension or understanding or connection with God. For the one, no one gave them their faith and no one can steal it, and for the other, you cannot pound it into them, no matter how hard you try. I liked what you said about it not being the fault of the church; that some in prison have had absolutely no encouragement or support except from God Himself and have come out with faith stronger than ever. That is true. I have tended to blame other people or the church for those who fall away, but while others certainly have an influence, no one can manufacture or cause faith to grow in another. Nor can anyone kill it.

      Blessings to you!

  4. Thanks for giving me the credit, but it wasn’t me where you got the term “practical atheism.” But I just read this aloud to my husband as we sit in the hospital room where he is recovering from brain surgery. Our faith is being tested and I want to be the one who is jumping on the glass. I KNOW He can hold me because He has in the past.
    Thank you,
    Gina

    1. Gina, I was sure you used that term once, in a blog post about trust. Wonder where I heard it then?? 🙂 I am praying for you and Ed and am inspired by your spirit of confident trust in God. I am sure it doesn’t always feel that way to you, and won’t always feel that way before this is over . . . but your deep faith which goes beyond just emotion is evident and is a witness of the Creator to your readers around the world.

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