The Church is Full of Atheists (and I'm One of Them) - Sometimes
For two weeks I've been turning Ephesians 4:1 over and over again in my head. "Live a life worthy of the calling you have received." Am I living a worthy life? Better yet, am I living in such a way that I show the Lord how thankful I am for his calling on my life?
When I was in high school I spent a few years walking in the ways of the world. I put my faith in Jesus Christ at the back of my life and I did all the things I wanted to do. Like Solomon I went after the pleasures of the flesh, desiring to experience and feel all the carnal things those around me were chasing after (Ecclesiastes 2). Eventually the Lord said, "Enough!" and he yanked me back into a state of affection for, and dependance upon, him.
That's the good news, but here's the problem. During those few years apart from Christ I tasted, and eventually feasted upon, the sugary treats that Satan offers. What has happened since, is that just like a kid after Halloween, it has been hard to get the craving for sin sugar completely out of my system. In high school a part of me mastered the ability to speak and act religious for Christ, while at the same time doing whatever I wanted, and occasionally the old desire for junk food instead of the real food that truly satisfies tries to overtake me. I thank the Lord Jesus that I am now eating a healthy spiritual diet and that the craving for sin is greatly diminished in my life, but I would be foolish and a liar to say it is gone altogether.
A blog post at Ligoner Ministries had an insightful explanation of this very idea...
What is deadly to the church is when the external forms of religion are maintained while their substance is discarded. This we call practical atheism. Practical atheism appears when we live as if there were no God. The externals continue, but man becomes the central thrust of devotion as the attention of religious concern shifts away from man's devotion to God to man's devotion to man, bypassing God. The "ethic" of Christ continues in a superficial way, having been ripped from its supernatural, transcendent, and divine foundation.
As the church, we Christians must encourage one another to live a life worthy of the calling they have received. We must be humble enough to receive the rebuke and correction of our pastors and our brothers and sisters. We must be bold enough to name sin when we see it in our faith family. We must be tender enough to speak the truth in love and spur one another on to good works. We must be moving towards the same goal of holiness in Christ, and we must be resolute in our conviction that God will honor and bless us in this pursuit no matter the cost.
I'm not perfect and I have a long way to go. I don't desire the milk and meat of the Scripture with the fervor I should. I don't follow the Saviors footsteps as closely as I want to, and it bothers me. That, however, is my consolation. It is in my being bothered that I am reminded of the Holy Spirit's work in me, and of the fact that God's grace is sufficient for my weakness, and of the truth that he who began a good work in me will continue until the day Christ Jesus brings me to glory with Himself.