I have a fantasy about how different my life would be if I were and atheist. I would be the master of my fate, “the captain of my soul.” I have very clear ideas about how a worldview shift like this would work itself out in my life. You see, it’s not merely that I wish I could disbelieve, finding some pretext to walk away from what I otherwise know to be true, I want it all not to be true at all. This is not a previously closeted crisis of faith coming to light. On the contrary, the more committed and mature my faith becomes the more I want it to be unfounded.
I should probably feel ashamed, but I don’t. Instead I feel relieved. My reasons are completely selfish, and I selfishly hope you feel the same, dear reader. I want there not to be a God primarily because I want things and want to do things without eternal consequence. I want to throw off the whole concept of sin and be a moral authority unto myself. There is a secret dark man within who stays hidden from the world but yearns to break free and run amok. What if I could eschew the light altogether? This dark man is ever with me, speaking to me in my mind and in my heart. He wants unbelief for me more than I do.
My second reason can be summed up in one word, perhaps the weightiest word in the English language. Hell. I used to think what a lot of Christians think and a lot of preachers preach. Get saved, avoid hell, tell others, coast all the way to heaven. What happens, though, when a loved one dies and you sit in a pew enduring speechifying about the deceased being “in a better place” when the preacher likely didn’t even know him? There are people who were once in this world that I never wanted to be without who I will be without for eternity. I want it not to be true! Worst of all is those with whom I had the opportunity to share Christ and failed to be obedient to the Holy Spirit on their behalf. On the day of judgement when we stand before The Father on his thrown and he says to some, “I never knew you” will I look across and see dear friends and family members among that group? The doctrine of Hell is the hardest to reconcile between my heart and my head. Why try?
Why, then, don’t I just decide not to believe? Why not put down the burden, worry, and failed attempts at righteousness and just be this other me?
In the end it comes down to one thing. Whether I pursue intellectual arguments, biblical study, prayer, fasting, or any other spiritual pursuit to find the truth of God’s existence and His will I always arrive at the same place I came to on an August day in 1993. The Cross. One author has said, “The cross is God taking on flesh and blood and saying, ‘Me too’.” Jesus commanded, “whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” The Cross is convicting. It is confrontational. It is simultaneously an implement of torture and the tool by which God fashioned a bridge from me to Himself. Every day the cross gets in your face and says, “what are you gonna do?”
I cannot be an atheist, not matter how much I might want to, because I can not escape The Cross.
“We have never preached violence, except the violence of love, which left Christ nailed to a cross, the violence that we must each do to ourselves to overcome our selfishness and such cruel inequalities among us. The violence we preach is not the violence of the sword, the violence of hatred. It is the violence of love, of brotherhood,the violence that wills to beat weapons into sickles for work.”
-Oscar A Romero
If this post has impacted you positively at all would you please leave a comment to let me know and share it with your friends via social media? Thanks in advance.