What comes to your mind when you read this title?
-Always an atheist?
-But, God still loves them?
What exactly is an atheist? Webster puts it this way,
“a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods.”
Not someone who questions God’s existence, that would be an agnostic, but someone who does not believe that God exists.
The Bible, God’s word, says;
“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6
Well, that was me for the first 20+ years of my life. I started out Catholic, but that was because my family was Catholic and I believed in God because that was what my family believed and I went to church and was baptized and confirmed because that was what you did. But, I really never owned it. I never really thought it through and when I started to, I looked for examples around me of what it meant to follow God. Sadly, what I saw, was a group of people who confessed God with their lips but lived their life like anybody else, and this included men of the cloth.
Drinking alcohol and using drugs until they couldn’t function
The list goes on, and I’m sure you could add to it.
It all seemed to run contrary to what came from the pulpit, it all seemed, “Do as I say, not as I do”. It all was hard to believe.
Instead of understanding that we are all human and struggle to follow God’s way, I blamed God as being of no consequence. Furthermore, I came to the conclusion that God did not exist. So, I turned my back on God, walked away from religion and began to live life in the way I thought was right. Living as an atheist.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”
By the way, what does an atheist look like? Jack the Ripper? Beetlejuice? Alice Cooper? Hitler? How about the neighbor down the street or your boss? Fact is, I’ve known atheists that were better citizens and neighbors than many confessed Christians.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7
So, how’s your heart?
“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart You, God, will not despise”. Psalm 51:17
My heart? My heart was far from God and tuned totally into myself, self-sufficient, defiant to God’s ways, far from being contrite, and yet, feeling like something was missing. I had addictions, a foul mouth, a dirty mind, no integrity, I was a liar and a thief, had a huge anger issue and was proud of it. (See our blog, “Missing the Mark”.)
God grabbed hold of me. It wasn’t at a church meeting or while talking to someone at the front door as they handed me a scripture card. God met me in my misery and invited me in to look at His word. I heard Him knocking at my door and opened it. (See our blog, “A Knock at the Door”.) Me. A guy who scoffed at God’s word as foolishness and simple stories. But me, a guy who was tired and wanted to know if God really existed.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds;and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8
So, I prayed these verses to God with the purpose of finding out if He would honor His word. In a way, I was arrogant and testing Him, but I was also wishing it was true.
I opened God’s word and started in the gospel of John. As I continued to read, to ask, to seek and knock, I became drawn to God, my heart became broken and contrite and I felt like I had drawn close to God. I came to believe in God, but did I believe God? The more I continued to seek God, the more I was convinced that He really existed and the more I believed that the Bible was given to us by God, so that we would know Him and the way He wants us to live the lives He has given us. I realized that we constantly want to go our own way and that we end up missing the way that He has laid out for us to live with Him forever more. That, Jesus came to earth, lived His life as an example for us to follow, died from mankind's rejection of God’s ways but rose from the dead so that anyone who believes God can live with Him forever more.
Jesus, didn’t do this so that we all go to heaven, willy nilly full of self love, what sense does that make? He did that so that all who believe and become contrite would go to heaven. By the way, if you don’t want to believe, don’t want anything to do with Him, He gives you the choice not to. He even has a place for you to spend eternity without Him.
“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
So, for me? Once an atheist, but no longer. I follow Jesus. And so can you.