The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today
Is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable. – Brennan Manning, ex-Alcoholic Catholic Priest
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. – Titus
There’s a new friend in my life, a business man. Highly intelligent with a first-class honours in Maths, we have been discussing some projects together. Along the way, we have had several discussions about God, Jesus and the main purpose of life. As an agnostic, he is intrigued that someone would seemingly be so open about their faith. Apparently, I don’t appear so naïve that I should put my faith in the God of the Bible. How can that be?
I suggested to my friend, that he might like to read CS Lewis on one of his next trips. As one academic to another, he would at the least find Lewis entertaining. To my surprise, my friend took me up on the idea, downloaded the CS Lewis classics and read them on a recent flight to China. It certainly did get him thinking, what if it’s all right? This week at coffee, he talked about what he had discovered in his brief journey towards Christ. One thing he realised was that eventually, not everyone has all the answers – Christianity contains a strong element of faith, a hope unseen. There is only so much we can see and experience from outside the boat, we actually have to get in to experience it all.
So then, where to from here?
Well, here’s the real stumbling block..surely, my friend said, if all that was true, how do we possibly see the pathetic reality of so many Christians lives? If we believe in a God who not only saves us, but also will judge us, either we should fall on our faces in deep gratitude, or tremble in fear enough to change our ways. Yet, the journey seems replete with bent Catholic priests, charismaniacs who worship mamon more even than the world, and day to day believers whose lives reflect no differently from those around them.
This week, I have heard stories of youth pastors at a large well known church, sleeping with their youth group, others suffering chronic depression and eating disorders, along with a well known worship leader who is a closet lesbian. My friend – the clever one, has a business partner in his practice, who is gay. Fairly common fare today, except this man left his wife some years ago, took up with a man and managed to get himself onto the governing board of the Uniting Church.
You see, for a person beginning to explore the person of Jesus Christ, it can be difficult to distinguish between the true light, and the rotting remnants of a bygone era of a ‘Christian country.’ As you read the New Testament, one of the outstanding hallmarks, is the purity of the church, and the very genuine fear of a Holy God. Little of that enough, is found in our version of Christianity.
Things have to change, for surely God is more aware of the problem than I am.
Eventually, if my friend reads enough of Lewis, he will come to the bit where Lewis expounds that God invariably has to change people – societies even, by taking them through a great deal of pain. Purity and persecution are common bedfellows in the New Testament, and in any place today where the church is thriving.
We need to watch out. It is certainly coming our way.