According to the definition of the terms “Christian” and “Atheist,” is it possible for someone to be both? That’s not only the question but also the fundamental belief behind Craig Groeschel’s book, The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living as If He Doesn’t Exist. This is a belief we will explore together in a chapter-by-chapter discussion (on Tuesdays) over the next few months.
Here’s a landscape of America’s culture right now:
• Most Americans claim to believe in God
• Many profess to be either “religious” or “spiritual” with no religious affiliation
• You don’t have to Google search long to find a scandal concerning a Christian or church leader, which means the laypeople (regular Sunday attendees) are reflecting lives far worse than their leadership
• Professing Christians will passionately defend political views that are either “liberal” or “conservative” often without considering the biblical view of the opponent’s position
• Those who do not believe in God often reject Christianity do to the hypocrisy they observe of Christian followers
• Many Christians cannot articulate (and therefore cannot live) the whole message of the gospel. Sure, they can tell you that Jesus died on the cross for their sins. My four year old can recite that fundamental truth. The question I want Christians to could with their lives is, “What has that sacrifice meant to you?” In other words, God does not claim a people who honor him with their lips but have hearts that are far from him.
This is a snapshot of people who place a little hope in God, a little hope in themselves, and a little hope in anything else (insert your idol of choice).
This book highlights challenges for Christians who claim to believe in God but live as if he doesn’t exist. The real challenges to consider: Do you really know him? Are you ashamed of your past? Are you sure God loves you? Do you believe in the power of prayer? Do you think God is fair? Do you believe God won’t forgive? Do you think you can change? Do you worry all the time? Do you pursue happiness at any cost? Do you trust more in money than you do in God? Do you share your faith? Do you believe in the church?
Craig Groeschel wrestled with these challenges as a young person. I was raised with the Christian Atheist mentality and even today, I struggle with some of these challenges, but I am not bound by them. It was not until I began to know God, I mean really know God, that I began to truly love him, see myself as he sees me, and love others in the process. This is the life of the gospel: love, hope, freedom, victory! You too can have it.
Finally, there are some who are afraid to come to Jesus or attend church because of what they have done in the past. This discussion is for you too. Why? The devil wants you to continue believing the lie that you can only attend church when you get yourself together. We are all sinners worthy of God’s wrath and punishment, and apart from accepting Jesus’ sacrifice for us, there is nothing we can do to earn God’s love, favor, goodness, or grace. You can never give a ‘good enough’ performance to impress God but, Jesus is more than enough to cover all of you and me. He can and will turn your life around completely.
Go out and pick up the book and we’ll begin discussing Chapter 1 on Tuesday, February 2.
Have you read this book yet? If so, what are your thoughts? If not, what are you most interested in discussing from the challenges shared above?