Practical [Christian] Atheists

The term atheist has been used rather diversely throughout church history. In the Roman Empire, the Romans actually accused the Christians of atheism! Their reasoning was simple: Christians didn’t believe in all of the other gods. Another group claims the title today, but when pushed, it becomes evident that they are more agnostic than atheistic. To be sure, there are also the vocal atheists who know what they (don’t) believe and are adamant in where they stand.

Yet, there is another group of “atheists” today that the words of Jeremiah 2.32 – “…yet My people have forgotten me days without number…” This group of covenant people lived without God in their memory…I’m afraid we can be guilty of doing the same. Consider this chart:

Do not prayRarely pray
Do not study the BibleRarely study the Bible
Do not memorize ScripturesDo not memorize Scriptures
Boast they don’t need a godLive like they don’t need God
Don’t lay up treasures in HeavenDon’t lay up treasures in Heaven
Don’t have personal devotionsRarely have personal devotions
Live only for todayLive only for today
Little concern for othersLittle concern for others

To be sure, the motives are different in each category. Yet, transparently, if there is no distinguishing characteristics between these two, why would an actual atheist, whose watching the lives of believers who live like practical atheists, ever consider the claims of Christ?

It’s a convicting thought! Here are four indicators that I believe are found in the lives of believers who live like atheists.

  1. A belief in God, but no fear for Him.
  2. A belief in God, but no commitment to Him.
  3. A belief in God, but no faith in Him.
  4. A belief in God, but no intimate knowledge of Him.


Each of these four indicators could be worthy of their own post. Rather than try to flesh them out for you, instead I ask you to simply think with me. It is possible to have an intellectual knowledge about God, and yet live like a practical atheist. Don’t tell me what you believe; show me. Belief always determines behavior.

If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to obtain a conviction? If there is no behavior that could conclusively convict you (or me) of being a Christian, then, for all practical purposes, you (we) are living like an atheist. To you, God pleads with you to come back and enjoy a relationship with Him.

  1. Do you fear Him? – If you fear Him, you will fear nothing or no one else.
  2. Are you totally surrendered to Him?
  3. Is money is the greatest need; or is a relationship with God at the top of the list?
  4. How well do you know Him?

Food for thought as we continue through the summer months.

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