Sunday, May 4, 2008

Religion Breeds Atheism

You've heard the saying, "rules without relationship breeds rebellion." I think this is also true stated as, "Christianity devoid of relationship with God breeds rebellion." I keep meeting people, in person or on-line, who tried Christianity and turned from it to atheism. Usually their stories are similar. Christianity for them was a bunch of rules that they saw the most religious among their community breaking. Christianity was merely a religion with nothing going for it as all it had to offer was a bunch of religious activities and social club meetings. In their experience, Christianity was empty and lifeless. It was their parents' choice, but not theirs. Besides, once they got to college they learned that all of it was a farce anyway. The Bible had errors as it was unhistorical, unscientific and altogether irrelevant to modern life. No reasonable person would believe in it and no reasonable person would believe God exist for it is a scientific fact that we are merely products of evolution though no one is quite sure about the origin of the process of evolution.

Christians should bear the weight of responsibility for this process, not the atheists. Atheism is becoming popular. Just look at the end aisle next to the inspiration section at your local book store. You will see such books as The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins or books attacking Christianity by Sam Harris such as The End of Faith, or for a more philosophical selection there are Daniel Dennett's books.

Those who are raising children need to lead them into an encounter with God by modeling that lifestyle and showing them the Father's heart. We cannot just teach morality to them and take them to church every week. It's not enough. We do need to train them in the evidences for their faith so that they can be a calm firm voice in their schools for the truth of Christ. But even more they need to know God experientially. He has to be undeniably real to them because they live a life in connection with Him. Christianity is not a religion, it is reality and it is a relationship with God. When we lose sight of that all we have is religion because it becomes something about man instead of something about God.

So many people believe they have given God a try because they were raised in church or because their parents were Christians. But they never encountered Him, and now they believe He must not be and their hope is lost. From then on they lump all Christians into the same religion mold as many do not stand out to them as any different then the ones they saw had nothing to offer.

We must get connected to God. Bill Johnson says that we owe people an encounter with God. If we don't get connected to the source we can't show life to a dying world. We can't show hope to the hopeless and peace to those in turmoil. We have no freedom to offer the captives and no healing to offer the hurting and broken. We have no real love to offer the rejected. How can we minister without being filled up with God by encountering Him?

We know He is there for His presence is everywhere. There is nowhere we can go from His presence. Likewise (to borrow an illustration from A.W. Tozer) we know the sun exist even on a cloudy day, we still know it is there. But how much more glorious is it when we see the sun shining and we feel its warmth on a nice sunny day. God is with us always. But to live like we are meant to live we must experience His presence like we experience the warmth and brightness of the sun. We must encounter Him. I have nothing to offer the world if I don't first seek after Him and know Him more and more. I am just as negligent in this as most people or more than most people.

My words are to myself even more than anyone reading them. I have encountered God before and I know that I know that I know that He is. But I need to encounter Him more so that I can be a greater light to shine hope in the lives trapped in darkness. For they do not even know they are in darkness until they see the light. We must each be that light that testifies of Christ.


Vicki G. said...

I couldn't agree more. It is our responsibility as believers to let His light shine so brightly that we provoke the lost to jealousy! How many believers do you know that are burning with God's fire so intensely that people want to know what it is about them that is so different? Unfortunately, not many. We are all guilty of letting the world around us darken the light within. Thanks for a very thought provoking commentary!

Jeanine said...

Thank you for your insights. I agree that it is more important to help our children experience a relationship with God, then to memorize rules and morals. It seems to me that we can also teach this to our kids by parents also developing a relationship with their kids, more then just expecting them to jump to the rules.