Atheism, which means “without God”, makes a lot of sense – if your understanding of God also omits the reality of Satan, because then God appears to be the only one to blame. But when Satan is held accountable for his ruthless reign, and God is understood to look like Jesus, a life “without God” makes no sense.
When some people hear about God, they don’t think of something sweet – they think of something bitter. “Why should I respect a God who created a world so full of pain?” Let’s face it, atheism – which simply means “without God”, makes a lot of sense if God is believed to be that way!
The western world has minimized any belief in Satan and evil spiritual powers that rule and reign, and the result is that all blame for what’s going wrong must then be placed on God’s shoulders. But the Gospels frequently attribute infirmities to demonic influence. “We must remember the incredible authority and stature ascribed to Satan in the New Testament. He is called…the god of this age. He is said to control the entire world and own all the authority of the kingdoms of the world.” But if we miss this, then God seems to be the root cause of pain and suffering – and Christians come along and add fuel to the fire! As Dallas Willard wrote, “How many people are radically and permanently repelled from [the Church] by Christians who are unfeeling and stiff, unapproachable, boringly lifeless, obsessive, and dissatisfied. Yet such Christians are everywhere, and what they are missing is the wholesome liveliness that springs from a balanced vitality within the freedom of God’s loving rule. Spirituality wrongly understood or pursued is a major source of human misery and rebellion against God.”
The primary promise of God in the Bible is that God will be with us. God wants to walk with us. The Bible is a collection of incredible walks with God. Walks with Adam and Eve; with Abraham; with the Israelites; with Jesus to the cross… These walks all reveal a God who wants to be with us. And we literally have the opportunity to walk each day of our life with the One who created it and wants to walk with us – why wouldn’t we want to do that? Why would we want to try to love people without truly seeing how the One who is love relates to people?
One thing all people have in common is a longing for purpose and meaning. For example, don’t you deeply want Good to overcome Evil? People long for that, and that’s an internal clue into how the world works. If good isn’t going to win over evil, then people in this world would be like a carp suddenly appearing in the Sahara Desert. But unlike a carp in the desert, our lives do have meaning and purpose, and much of that is beyond our experience of the physical world we live in. As C. S. Lewis said, “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists… If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”
Seth’s challenge is for anyone who is “without God” right now to wonder if it’s true that there is meaning and purpose that goes beyond just the physical, material world. Might a good God who has been walking with people for thousands of years want to walk with you?!
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