Sunday, January 11, 2015

What About Living As If He Really Does Exist?

So now we have an ex-Christian pastor turned atheist after an experiment in which he lived a year as if God did not exist. This gives me reason to wonder what might happen if people resolved to live as if God did exist. And not just any god, but the God revealed in the Christian Bible. What would happen to a skeptic if they obeyed all the things Christ commanded us to do? What if the ex-pastor had resolved to live a year as a genuine disciple before experimenting with atheism?

What if Christians themselves resolved to live a year as if their God really did exist and really did give them power to live his kind of life here on earth? Have a hard time imagining that? I guess you and I are not alone.

But here is why skeptics will not do it. If you actually decide to live like that, even for a short period of time, you are accountable to a moral system that goes deeper than fakeable surface behaviors and does not change when you wish it to. If you want to live like an atheist you are accountable to no moral system in particular. For all the bluster about atheists living moral lives, the term 'moral' in that assertion is up for as many interpretations as there are individuals and situations. Our ex-pastor may have chosen a vague Western system of (ironically) Judeo-Christian values, but he would have been equally justified in picking militant Central American Communism to guide his steps and kill the next capitalist he saw. Without God, both are equal choices. The problem for humans is, with God, they are not and we are responsible for the lives we lead to Someone more powerful and eternal than us.

That bugs the skeptic. It, in fact, bugs every human heart until that human realizes how good it is to live the way the Manufacturer laid out the plans. God is Supreme Lord of all, but he is also irrevocably good and his mercies are new every morning. His disposition toward us now is patience; his very nature is love. Nothingness provides me with none of that, and all the whistling in the dark and making my own meaning without Him still leaves the darkness in charge.

So what might you have to do in order to live a year as if God really did exist? Here is a smattering of commands given to the follower of Jesus Christ. Try them on for size.

"Follow me." Jesus
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength....You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus
"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Jesus
"Put to death what is earthly in you....Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience." Paul
"Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God...casting all your cares on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful." Peter
"Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind." Peter
"Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves." Paul
"Little children, keep yourselves from idols." John

We could go on nearly ad infinitum.

It is easy for the human psyche to make the decision, "I'm going to unchain myself from the responsibility I have living under the sun, but I will continue to use it for fuel." It takes a hard-core soul to say, "I will unchain myself from the sun and live as if that really just happened." But what if a human soul recognizes what the sun is and why it is there? What if we make a decision like, "I live under the sun and receive life itself from it, so I will live as if that really is the case."

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