I was at a meeting recently where one of my close Christian friends shared that his teenage son had decided to become an atheist. This young man had been attending worship services regularly, participating in youth group, going on mission trips…in short, many of things that parents and pastors and youth directors think will grow their child closer to God and deeper in faith. But somewhere there was a disconnect between the activity, teaching and the experiences of “Christianity” and the reality of believing and following Jesus.
I have heard this story a few times in the last two years so I am not at all surprised by it. The number of professed atheists in our nation is increasing. So are the number of gods…and views of god…and religions to choose from.
Which is one reason why I think it is important for Christians to know who, what and why they believe what they do…and to see that the “activity” of being a Christian doesn’t necessarily reflect the faith of a Christian.
In Luke 9:20 remember that we noted that Jesus calmed his disciples down after a “successful” mission trip where the disciples had demons submitting to them in Jesus’ name. He reminded them that they should rejoice not in that (good, powerful works) but in the fact that their names were written in heaven. Maybe what he was saying is that their faith in the name of Jesus was more important than what that faith “accomplished”.
What is pertinent for today is verse 22. Jesus prays: “No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
There is a mystery here that I do not quite understand. What I do believe, though, is that we cannot know God the Father except by knowing the Son. And somehow, it is in the Son revealing himself to us, through the Holy Spirit, that we get to know the Father.
It also seems to me that once we know the Son and the Father through him, and have experienced the blessings and benefits of the Holy Spirit, that we would want never to know any other god.
Which leads me to wonder whether my friends who have become atheists really believed in the first place?
On this sixth day of Lent, I would invite you to consider Jesus. Do you really know him? Do you really follow him. Or, have you been thinking that “doing” things for him is the same as knowing and following him?
Lets make sure we know Jesus before we start serving him.
Jesus, lover of my soul, reveal yourself to me and make your Father known to me. Give me the courage to believe and to follow you. Amen.