"The Company of the Conflicted"
Why is atheism attractive to some people, and why are they often so passionate about their disbelief in God?
First, if there is no Creator, one can view the past without guilt, regret, and shame because no moral arbiter exists to whom we must answer for sins already committed. Moreover, if there is no Creator, there is no Sustainer, and thus no Presence in the present who in this moment calls us to trust and submit ourselves to Him. Finally, if there is no Creator and Sustainer, there is no Judge to whom we will give account of ourselves in the future. The atheist thus breathes a sigh of relief as he dismisses the possibility of reward and retribution to come. Atheism offers apparent relief regarding the most challenging aspect of past, present, and future, namely, the living and true God. The atheist dismisses the Creator, Sustainer, and Judge as merely a troubling but non-existent phantom to be blithely ignored.
Regarding the zeal and vigor to reject God that frequently characterizes the attitude and bluster of atheists, the Apostle Paul shines light on the matter.
"The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves" (II Timothy 2:24-25).
"Those that oppose themselves" - this surely includes the professing atheist who exists in denial of the most obvious Reality in his life. "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard" (Psalm 19:1-3). From the moment of conception and throughout our earthly lifetime, the Great Fact of God and His involved presence illuminates the path of all. "The True Light... lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:9). The atheist fights against the obvious, creating great turmoil in heart, mind, and even body as he rages against reality. This often elicits much passion to deny God and His truth, based on deep inner frustration, uncertainty, and fear. Thus, Paul calls us to counter the rage not only with Truth, but with the gentleness, patience, and meekness of peace that characterizes the hearts of believers who flow with the Divine current rather than against it.
Christians look to the past, seeing God there with thanksgiving for gifts given, pardon of sin, and confidence that God can weave all the moments of yesterday into the good of conforming us to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 8:28-29). We open our eyes in the present to view the Presence, namely, our involved and active Heavenly Father who "worketh all things after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:11). Finally, we look to the future with hope because we have cast our eternal fate onto the safe arms of our Savior. We trust Him for the assurance of eternal salvation regarding ourselves, and for His perfectly just judgment of our works (I John 5:13; II Corinthians 5:9-10). We view the past, present, and future - history - as His Story. We see Him in all because He is in all the moments of time, and the everlasting glory of forever. This is peace because this is reality. No need for turmoil of heart, mind, and body because, again, we flow with the current of God's reality rather than against it. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee" (Isaiah 26:3).
At the heart of all who reject the fact of God resides the fear of Him. As the colleague of an atheist once said, "Chris doesn't believe in God - and he hates Him with all his heart!" Indeed, atheists form the company of the conflicted. The Lord whom they reject becomes the most significant issue in their hearts and lives. We need not fear their bluster, but rather recognize the misery that causes it. Thus, we heed Paul's command to be "apt to teach" in forthright communication of God and Truth. But we do so without striving and in gentleness, recognizing that the contempt we often see in atheists proceeds from the conflict and consternation that cannot fail to characterize the hearts of those who rage against reality.
"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God."
Weekly Memory Verse
Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.