Who Needs God | Week 6
Speaker: Kevin Bryant
Be honest with yourself.
Self-deception always takes us in a bad direction. • Self Deception is a lid to growth — we’ve all learned this
“I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well- informed people I know are religious believers.
It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”
—Thomas Nagel, The Last Word (page 130)
There is an important difference between these two: I don’t believe. I don’t want to believe.
Did you lose faith over something that happened? Something you read? You kept getting faith based answers to fact based questions.
Or did you decide to stop believing because faith got to be inconvenient? Did you realize that stoping believing something isn’t an argument so then you had to collect information to support your belief — Did your decision to stop believing precede the data you’ve collected to support your unbelieving?
If you want God to exist, seek answers. But if your departure from faith was around will, information won’t suffice.
“People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.” —Blaise Pascal (17th century mathematician, philosopher, physicist)
This is true of all of us isn’t it? Very few of us wake up every day on a truth quest (I’m willing to abandon everything I believe, just give me the truth) …happiness quest — will change worldview for happiness
“We love the truth when it enlightens us. We hate the truth when it convicts us.” — St. Augustine Bishop, Philosopher, Theologian, 354-430, We don’t argue to get to the truth, we argue to be right (Parent/kids – as adult) — in fact often when we are in the middle of an argument and realize we are or might be wrong… we double down and argue harder — its not about right or wrong, but about winning
When we won’t admit what we suspect to be true . . .
When we won’t look for fear of what we might see . . .
It means there’s something else in the mix. What is that? You need to know the answer to that question.
All of us need to address this…but I’m specifically speaking to those who have stepped away
So, at the risk of getting too personal, could the real reason you stepped away from the faith not be the arguments and answers you lob out… could the issue be one of the following?
If God . . . I’m guilty.
To acknowledge “God” dredges up your past and there is stuff back there that makes you ashamed. Tried to distance yourself = a few MISTAKES in the past.
At the same time, they hover; they follow you around. More than just us involved in those mistakes; people were hurt; you owe people what you can never give back. (Can’t give those years back — kids, spouse) You know if you lower your defenses and acknowledge that spark and it becomes a flame of belief, all that stuff transforms from mistake to sin. That’s terrifying.
If I choose to believe, what I reduced to a few mistakes in my past all of sudden flood back in. If I’m honest with myself I don’t want to feel that
If God . . . I’m accountable.
We all want to play God. • Story of Garden of Eden (History or myth) – Mankind deciding we don’t need God; plays out all
through life • Don’t “want” leads to — Illusion of autonomy (I don’t need anyone. I’ll do it my way) / leads to regret
Unaccountable people make regrettable decisions. Two autonomous people eventually have unresolvable conflict.
If your honest with yourself … to admit God is to admit you are accountable. Admission points to submission. — Nobody wants to submit — we live life loud to drown out a sense accountability
If God . . . I’m wrong.
What is it in us that makes it so difficult to admit we are wrong? So many times we know we are wrong and we just double down. To acknowledge God, especially if you have been away… is tough.
Humility is always the way forward. It makes you bigger, wiser, and smarter. “I’ve been wrong” is the most direct route to discovering what is right. But we still resist it.
If God . . . I’m guilty. I’m accountable. I’m wrong.
These are not arguments for or against anything. They are responses.
Be honest with yourself real quick — Isn’t it true that you stopped believing before you had any data to support your decision? You didn’t want God to be. That isn’t an argument, it’s a response.
—————————————————————————————————————————————— Acknowledge the issue is our resistance, not God’s existence Good news: When we acknowledge that the issue is our resistance, we find ourselves in the middle of the epic narrative of God’s pursuit of mankind. Why is this good news? If Jesus was right . . .
If God . . . there’s forgiveness.
Jesus is a redeemer. He takes guilt, shame, embarrassment, and mistakes and uses them to declare your worth by exchanging them for his life.
Your sin becomes God’s platform to demonstrate his love.
Paul said it best: Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still MISTAKES/ SINNERS, Christ died for us. (Mistake; nobody’s perfect)
All relationships demand sacrifice. If there is no sacrifice I don’t know you love me. Big difference between love said and love done. Offense requires forgiveness and restitution. Through Christ, God demonstrated both. Do you want to live your life outside of that, especially if you feel something stirring in you that says it might be true?
If God . . . there’s relationship.
Accountability is part of any relationship. To resist accountability to God is to resist relationship with God. Parents know this — rebellion breaks relationship.
If God . . . there’s truth.
There’s a basis for moral law—for justice. If God… There’s an explanation for the “oughts.” Explanation for the “oughts” that don’t always govern your actions, but often govern your reactions. Why is that there seems to be common alignment around what is right and wrong? Even if we easily justify our own actions, we are quick to recognize something wrong when its against us.
If God… there is a basis for truth…what is right…justice
If God. . . . . . there’s forgiveness. . . . there’s relationship. . . . there’s truth.
If the question is . . .
Who wants God? At some point, none of us do. Who needs God? As it turns out, we all do.
CONCLUSION • Jesus had brothers and sisters. They thought he was crazy. The New Testament writers documented that. His siblings did not follow him (John 7:5). • His oldest brother was James. When James saw his resurrected brother, whom he did not follow
before he was crucified . . . He believed… He became a leader in the local church. What would your brother have to do to convince you he was the son of God? • In AD 62 (according to a Jewish historian, Josephus, not the New Testament), High Priest Ananus broke the law and used the Sanhedrin to condemn James to death by stoning. • So he died for what he saw and thus taught. His brother was his Lord. • James, in some way, must have lived with a similar tension to what you feel. In a letter to
Jewish Christians, he writes something that I’m sure came from his own struggles, doubts, resistance, and pride.
I’ll leave you with this:
James 4:8, 10 8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. 8 Wash your hands, you sinners, [It was more than a mistake. You knew.] 8 and purify your hearts, you double-minded. [Be honest with yourself. Don’t hide behind your intellect.] 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, [That’s how you draw near. Here’s how God reciprocates:] 10 and he will lift you up.
Be honest with yourself… and take a step