Stop Living Like a Christian Atheist
- Monday, October 18, 2010
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Craig Groeschel's recent book,The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living as if He Doesn't Exist, (Zondervan, 2010).
Sure, you believe in God. But does the way you live reflect that belief? Too often, Christians seem more like atheists because they live as if God doesn't really exist - despite saying that they believe in Him. God wants more from you than just belief. He wants you to act on your faith by living it out in every part of your life. That's the only way you can grow closer to God and let others know that your faith is real, so they'll be inspired to seek God themselves.
So stop living like an atheist and start living like a Christian. Here's how you can deal with different obstacles that can prevent you from fully living out your faith.
When you believe in God but don't really know Him: God wants a close relationship with you - one in which you get to know Him well. He promises in the Bible that those who seek Him will find Him. So make it your top priority to pursue a closer relationship with God. As you get to know God better, you'll change into a better person throughout the process. Tell God that you want to know Him more, and invite Him to transform you and your life.
When you believe in God but are ashamed of your past: Shame will give you an inaccurate view of yourself and keep you from embracing the truth that God loves you no matter what and you have great value as someone He has made in His image. So reject what your shame says about you so you can hear what God says about you and start living with confidence. Confess your sins, repent of them, and pursue healing however God leads you, such as through counseling. Ask God to help you use your experiences from past mistakes to minister to other people who are struggling in similar ways.
When you believe in God but aren't sure He loves you: Don't waste time and energy worrying about whether you're good or important enough to deserve God's love, or trying to earn His love - that's all futile. Instead, realize that God, in His essence, is love. Since God's nature is to love, He loves you completely and unconditionally. God's love for you will always be bigger than your sins and failures.
When you believe in God but not in prayer: If you don't pray much, ask yourself honestly why you don't. Is it because you don't expect prayer to lead to real change? Give prayer a try and you'll start to experience its power to change both people and situations. Is it because prayer is just a boring ritual to you? Pour out your deepest thoughts and feelings to God, listen to His responses, and you'll discover that prayer can be exciting. Is it because you're not sure that you know how to pray the right way? Rest assured that there's no formula for prayer; God will hear whatever you pray, however you pray it.
When you believe in God but don't think He's fair: Bad things do happen to good people in our fallen world, but you can count on God to bring about justice ultimately in the eternal realm. Remember that whenever God does allow you to suffer, He has a purpose for your pain that will ultimately lead to something good. Also, considering how often people sin, it's good that God doesn't give us all exactly what we deserve in this world, because that would mean not receiving the good grace that He constantly gives.
When you believe in God but won't forgive: Remember that God has forgiven you freely and completely for everything you've ever done wrong, so let your gratitude motivate you to obey His call to forgive other people who have hurt or offended you. If you just make the choice to forgive - despite your feelings - God will help you through the process and empower you to forgive anyone for anything.
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