How Can Not Believing in God Help People Know God?
In his international bestseller, The God Delusion, renowned atheist Richard Dawkins writes, "We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further."
Over the years, I've had the opportunity to read some of Dawkins' works, as well as the works of other popular contemporary atheist authors like Sam Harris, Stephen Hawking, and the late Christopher Hitchens.
I have to say that I don't disagree with them completely when the offer severe critiques of the ways religion has caused so many problems in our world. Case in point: All of the upheaval in the Middle East, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, the exploitation of women in children in fundamentalist Mormonism, and so on.
They also raise serious questions about a God who condemns, rages, espouses violence, and directs His followers to judge others, act with intolerance and generally walk around angry and combative.
And here's where I am about to say something shocking. I don't disagree with their assertions that people need to give up their belief in that kind of God. To be completely 100% honest, I don't believe in that God, either. In fact, when I hear someone say they are an atheist, I think to myself, "I probably have more in common with you than you would like to admit."
By contrast, we have a description of God from 1 John 4:9-11 that paints an entirely different portrait:
This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.11-12 My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!Come on! When you read that passage of Scripture, you get the most incredible image of God as pure love, and who in their right mind would not want to believe in that? Imagine if Christians stopped trying to debate atheists, and instead joined them in renouncing belief in the "god" that Dawkins wrote about?
Man, that would blow their mind, wouldn't it?
Imagine then if Christians began showing the world what it looks like to believe in the God of 1 John 4:9-11 and to embrace a life lived in the example of Jesus, God's Anointed. The writer of 1 John admitted, "No one has seen God, ever..." But in an inverse of the old saying "seeing is believing," the author infers that through our love for other people, people can begin to believe in God... and then to see.
May you demonstrate your belief in the God whose love never fails, whose mercy never runs out, who is still in the resurrection and restoration business. May you show the world what it looks like to believe and then to see. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.