“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God,’” (Psalm 14:1).
Christians feel vindicated by this verse. There are a lot of really smart atheists out there that have put many Christians to shame with their superior intelligence. So when we read verses like this, we get kind of excited. It’s like the Bible is saying, “In your face Richard Dawkins!”
The problem is, this verse isn’t about atheism.
The three most important, and most overlooked, words in this verse are the key to understanding it. It doesn’t say, “The fool says, ‘There is no God.’” It says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God.’”
There is a huge difference in what we say with our mouths and what we say in our hearts. A Christian would never say with his mouth that there is no God. If he did he wouldn’t be a Christian.
But if we’re honest, I think our hearts say it all the time.
I’ve heard this called “functional atheism.” Sure, we technically believe in God. We claim to trust God. We go to church, maybe even read our Bibles, and listen to K-LOVE on the radio. But do we really believe what we say we believe?
Here are 4 ways we act like atheists.
1. We try to hide our sins and shortcomings.
We act like atheists when we try to hide our sin and think to ourselves, “No one will find out.” We forget that the most important pair of eyes sees everything we do.
God saw what you were going to do before you ever did it, and even before you thought about doing it.
But far too often, when it is expedient, we conveniently forget about the Holy Spirit and quietly ignore conviction. We do this because we don’t really believe that one day we will stand before a just Judge, with all of our actions and motives fully disclosed, and He will hold us accountable.
“In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths,” (Prov. 3:6).
2. We don’t pray first.
When life punches us in the gut and our first response isn’t prayer, that is functional atheism. We act like we are all alone in the universe, with one who cares or hears us cry out. Even though we claim to believe otherwise.
Many Christians are often dumbfounded by Paul’s challenge to “Pray without ceasing,” (1 Thes. 5:17). But each of us personally knows the Creator of the universe, the King of kings, the Prince of peace, the Sovereign Lord.
Whenever we want, we can talk to the only One who can truly make a difference in our lives and circumstances. And yet we do not pray without ceasing.
Paul was not the strange one. We are.
Paul did exactly what you would expect someone to do who truly believes that the most powerful Being in the universe is eager to hear him and to help him at all times.
We, on the other hand, because of laziness or doubt or whatever it may be, refuse to plead with God to work in our lives.
“Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved,” (Psalm 55:22),
3. We hope in what we can control.
If you spend all your energy promoting yourself, providing security for yourself, and chasing your dreams, you might be a functional atheist.
When we fight to keep everything in our lives at arms length so that we can keep it under our control, we are working like God does not exist.
We don’t really believe there is a God above working on our behalf and taking care of us.
When we are anxious and restless with no peace, trying to control every part of our lives, we are bearing the fruit of those who do not believe in an All-powerful and loving God who is completely in control.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain,” (Psalm 127:1).
4. We are not thankful.
An attitude of entitlement, discontentment, blindness to the blessings in your life, or thinking you deserve what you have because you worked hard for it, are all symptoms of functional atheism.
Unthankfulness is like saying, “There is no God.”
Atheists have no one to thank. But we have nothing more than what God has chosen to give us.
Let us not forget that there is a generous God who has richly blessed you with “every good and perfect gift,” (James 1:17).
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord,” (Job 1:21).
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