all-saints-2887463_640

One of the books that I’m currently reading is Save Me: An Atheist’s Letter to the Christian Church by Barney Adler. This is seriously a very convicting book from an atheist calling out Christians for essentially not living up to Christian standards. Early on, he says, “Perhaps I’m missing something, but moderate Christianity seems to be almost insulting to Jesus of the Bible.” (Location 146, Kindle Edition).

A couple of chapters later, he has a chapter called “Will the Real Christians Please Stand Up?” (Location 379-422, Kindle Edition, Emphasis mine)

WILL THE REAL CHRISTIANS PLEASE STAND UP?
I have a friend (whom we’ll call Janet) that serves on staff at a small church near where I live. Janet has actually told me before that she is in “the best spiritual state” of her life. She also likes to attend the occasional party with me and especially enjoys getting drunk out of her mind. Janet is good friends with the owner of a local sports bar and frequents the bar on weekends. One night, when out with a good friend, Janet made it her goal to “just get laid.” She then showed up fifteen minutes early for Sunday school the next morning and told a group kids all about Jesus.
There’s something very odd about this. Janet spends her weekends partaking in the same actions that she claims she was saved from. Then she teaches children on Sunday that Jesus changes lives. Has Jesus changed her life?
The truly amazing thing is that Janet is not alone in this endeavor. I have a number of friends who act just like her while still professing Christianity. To me this just screams hypocrisy. It is almost as if Christianity has been turned on its head. Jesus didn’t die for our sins; he died so that we can sin. Nothing could be more removed from Jesus’ message.
Jesus spoke of righteousness greater than this. He certainly did not seem to think that sin was small thing. Read Matthew 5: “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” And just a few verses later we read,
If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.
I am not saying Christians should be dismembering their limbs; Jesus is obviously using a figure of speech. But the principle remains; Jesus did not condone sinful behavior.
I often wonder if these Christians have ever taken the time to read Romans 6. (“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”) I was under the impression that Christians were made into “new creatures,” but apparently I was wrong.
The average Christian that I run into that acts in this manner thinks that this is somehow a useful evangelism tool. If only the lost world will see that Christians too can party, then they will convert. What the drunkard needs most is someone to drink with. The stoner needs a partner to smoke with.
What absurd nonsense! I have no respect for a Christian that acts in this hypocritical manner. You are no different than I. You too are lost.
I know of some who think it’s hypocrisy to actually hold others actions accountable. But it seems to me that this atheist has a deeper understanding than some of our brothers and sisters. I read this and feel the ouch when I don’t even do any of the things that he points out.
One of the daily emails that I subscribe to (and try to read each day (along with my other daily subscriptions)), the Christian History daily email by the Christian History Institute. Reading this chapter reminded me of the October 30th email, entitled “Origin of the Name Quakers”, that started off with this (emphasis mine):
IN 1643, some English lads visited a fair. All claimed to be Christians. George Fox joined them in ordering a jug of ale. “I, being thirsty, went in with them, for I loved any who had a sense of good, or that sought after the Lord.” But, “When we had drunk a glass apiece, they began to drink healths, and called for more drink.” One called out, “Whoever won’t drink pays!” Fox was upset that “Christians” would challenge each other to a drinking bout. So he rose, took a coin from his pocket and laid it on the table, saying, “If that’s the way it’s going to be, I’m leaving.” 
How often do we as Christians go on drinking bouts, or tell coarse jokes, or tell sexual innuendos, or what not, things that are contrary to a life of a Christian? Jesus’ strongest words were against hypocrisy.
Some will try and use David’s sin of Bathsheba as a defense to justify their actions, misunderstanding that David was wrong too. And when he was confronted, he confessed his sin and repented. Some even have an attitude that their actions are not open to discussion or debate.
Barney Adler continues his chapter:
Like I have mentioned multiple times already, there is something missing in our lives. And Christianity claims to have the missing piece: God. Only an infinite God can fill the void in my soul. But I don’t believe in God. I’m convinced that God is only an illusion. I am Juliet in a world with no Romeo. I have a reason to sin, to drink, to lose myself in the things of the world that are less than me. I have become a thing; why should I act like a person? But you believe that there’s more. You think there really is a God who watches over us and even died for us. So why would you waste this life on things that are less than Jesus? What does that gain you?
If you are a Christian, I envy you. I want what you have. I wish I could go back. I would give up every earthly pleasure in an instant if I could only believe Christianity to be real. And you squander this gift. I am convinced that if there is a God, he prefers outright atheism over this kind of hypocritical nonsense. Do you not realize what a gift morals really are?
Do you not understand that some of us yearn desperately to have these unattainable virtues? Why then do you give them up so flippantly? Why do you proudly abandon the morality the world lacks? Do you seriously think that sin will bring you joy?
I used to work with a girl named Allishia who like Janet believed in God but didn’t really let that affect her life. I know Allishia went to church at times; I actually went with her once. But somehow this never really change the way she lived. From what I understand, Allishiastill partied and drank with the best of nonbelievers. But eventually she came to the point of misery, and knew (like all of those without God know) that something was missing. And that’s when another girl named Shannon intervened. Shannon had a talk with Allishia that quite literally changed her life. And I can assure you, this was no small change. Allishia seems to be incapable of not talking about God now. She goes to church, attends Bible studies, reads books about the Christian life, posts Facebook statuses about verses in the Bible that she finds inspiring, and even went on a trip to Uganda for a month to help missionaries there. Allishia’s religion consumes her life. There’s a joy on her face that never seemed to exist in her before. That’s a change; that’s revolutionary.
So what happened in her talk with Shannon? What could have possibly been said to Allishia to cause such a drastic change? The answer is surprising. I asked Allishia about her conversion to this radical Christianity, and this is what she told me:
Something was different about this meeting. I mean, it’s not like I hadn’t heard this stuff before. That day I felt God’s presence. I knew it was real because Shannon was real. The Lord always shines through her, that’s why I gave her a chance to begin with. But most of all I felt Him. It was like a light switch turned on. I couldn’t deny it even if I wanted to. It was almost as though I could feel Him holding me and saying, “I’m never letting go.” And I know you’re probably thinking: “Well, you had no other way to go; you were at a dead end. Of course you would run to religion.” But it was more than that—something indescribable. My entire outlook was changed. Things began to make more sense to me.
Fanaticism breeds fanaticism. Shannon’s life changes Allishia’s in a remarkable way. And I can tell you from experience that Allishia’s life calls out at mine. I can’t watch her be so happy and not want to take part in the same joy. Something about her life seems to lead to a greater meaning, a greater purpose. She lives what I lack. No one can debate that. I can argue with Allishia’s theology, but I cannot argue with her life.

Rodney Smith says, “There are five Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and the Christian. Most people will never read the first four.” How you live is important. Jesus said that they will know us by our fruits.  Let the way we live glorify God in everything we think, say, and do.

 

 

Advertisements