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Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine’s Day and Atheism

Today is Valentine’s Day. This holiday bugs me. Yesterday I saw a tweet from a young teenager who said, “I hope I get something tomorrow.” I’m not exactly sure what she meant, but likely she is hoping for some kind of attention from a teenage boy or perhaps any teenage boy today. I know it's mostly innocent fun, but what I also know is that if she goes through today and doesn’t receive what she was hoping to receive, she is likely to be asking herself at the end of the day, “what is wrong with me?” What a challenge it is to teach our young girls a healthy sense of their worth in God’s eyes!

Perhaps we need to hear, on this holiday more than any other time, and not just for the young girls in our midst, the words of the apostle John in 1 John 3:16-18, “let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” Those words came after a challenge to be practically involved in meeting needs.  Part of what Jesus calls his followers to be and do is to minister to people in need. One of Jesus’ most haunting parables is in Matthew 25:31-46 where he speaks of believers and unbelievers being by revealed by whether or not their lives are characterized by practically meeting needs or not.

Theologian Alistair McGrath shows another reason why we must get this kind of practical love straight, “One of the most obvious lessons of history is that atheism thrives when the church is seen to be privileged, out of touch with the people, and powerful.” (from The Twilight of Atheism) I’m working this week on answering this objection to the Christian faith: Hasn’t science disproved the need for God? The questions betrays  a “god of the gaps” view of faith where people only believe in God because they can’t explain how things work in the world. That’s a lousy basis for faith. The greater reality according to McGrath and my own personal experience is that many wander into atheism for reasons having nothing to do with science. Sometimes its because they’ve encountered a church or a person who claims to be a Christian but acted in a way that caused them to turn against God.

For all these reasons we need a robust vision of how God calls us to practically love, not just with our words but in how we invest our lives. I'll be discussing this further on Sunday at Bethany PlaceYou can see the scripture, outline, and discussion questions for Sunday’s message here.

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