Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Are you a Christian Atheist?

So my thoughts today are at least somewhat connected to today's lectionary readings, so please check them out here:
The reading that stood out to me was the reading from Hosea 7.  The whole book of Hosea is the story of God calling Israel to repentance through his prophet Hosea.  
Israel had fallen away from God in many respects, but maybe most critically, it had begun to think that they didn't need God - they hadn't stopped believing in God, but God no longer mattered to them and they didn't allow God and God's call on their lives to effect or change them.  
So when I read the following passage from Hosea this morning it connected with a few other things I had recently seen and been thinking about.  So, first the passage and then the other stuff.

2Israel cries to me, "My God, we - Israel - know you!"3Israel has spurned the good; the enemy shall pursue him.4They made kings, but not through me; they set up princes, but without my knowledge. With their silver and gold they made idols for their own destruction. 5Your calf is rejected, O Samaria. My anger burns against them. How long will they be incapable of innocence? 6For it is from Israel, an artisan made it; it is not God. The calf of Samaria shall be broken to pieces.

One of the other things I was thinking about was a quote that Tyler Domske tweeted from Catalyst this morning, its from John Ortberg, and here is what he said: 
"The world is not likely to respond to a gospel of transformation proclaimed by untransformed people"
And all of that combined with two phrases that I have come across recently, the first is the title of a new book by the pastor of, Craig Groeschel, and it is called 'The Christian atheist: believing in God but living as if he didn't exist'  And the other phrase is one that is highlighting the same issue, 'functional atheism'.  

I think this idea of a 'Christian atheist' or 'functional atheism' is exactly what had happened in Israel in the time of Hosea.  They hadn't stopped believing in God but they had stopped living like God made a difference in their lives.  They had stopped opening their lives to God and God's Holy Spirit to have their lives transformed.  
So when we don't allow God access into our lives (and every area of our lives at that) then our 'belief' in God is functionally meaningless.  And when we don't allow God access and control over every corner of our lives then other things - false idols of all shapes and sizes - will definitely move in and fill the void.  
This is what God saw in Israel in the time of Hosea, the Israelites had closed themselves off from God and filled their lives with all sorts of things of their own making and their own design.  Ultimately they are all things that fall short of our expectations and let us down.  
So the question for us this day is are we living as functional atheists? Are we living our lives believing in God but not allowing God's Holy Spirit to transform them - so that our lives don't represent the transformative power of God?
And what would happen if we began to invite God into every corner of our lives and asked God's Holy Spirit to transform us so that we might be used to transform the world around us?  
Let's find out.

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