Sunday, December 11, 2005

Am I an Atheist?

At face value its a bit of a stupid question I suppose. After all I'm a Christian blogger. I'm a Christian preacher at our church. I even work for the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship. Outwardly everything looks in order. All the pieces are in place. But why then raise the question. The Bible is full of instruction to pray. Calls to be devoted to prayer. Devoted to a dependence on God. R.W. Dale said: "work without prayer is atheism..."
Why then am I so prayerless?

Perhaps because I've been preaching for five years, and so have a modest level of competence. Perhaps because I've been writing online for seven years, with a modest readership - my hit counter says 100 people a day...why? After eight years living as a Christian I know how things are supposed to work.

The more I know the more I should be driven to my knees in prayer. For all my basic competence without God I have nothing. Without his saving of me I am lost. I could bumble along but I would have no future. Competence is a false hope. As false a hope as my Curriculum Vitae. Only by the power of the Cross of Christ can I do anything at all. Its power in my life is the reason why I'm not an atheist, but my life so easily lags behind. I could puff up my soul with empty words, but true life is found only in Jesus Christ.

My interpretation of reality gets shaped by what everyone says. People say that what I do is a good thing, but its not good its the only thing I can concieve of giving my life to. People say that I'm preaching well, but thats only by the grace of God. I am not an atheist because the grace of God reached out to me. I am not an atheist because God provided, in Jesus, a genuine hope for salvation.

All the deception of my sinful nature, the lies of my ego and the lure of fleeting pleasures have nothing real to offer me. I must stand humbled. As Carl Henry said, "how can anyone be arrogant when he stands beside the cross?" The shockwaves of God's grace must continue to reverberate through my life. The shadow of the cross cast over every moment. The power of the Holy Spirit bringing life where death would otherwise reign. All I can say is "God, have mercy on me a sinner."

Thanks to Josh Harris for sparking this line of thought: Preparing a sermon with Josh Harris and John Stott