I was listening to an online sermon series recently, when I heard a phrase, which I suppose is old but seemed to strike me as relevant today, that “worry is practical atheism”.
Now, I know several people—many from the blogosphere realm—who call themselves atheists; and I’m happy to call them my friends. I’ve talked to several of them, both through online commentary and discussion forums, and through personal contact and face-to-face conversation and, though I may not agree with some of the conclusions they’ve come to, I can see, and understand, how many of them got there.
But what is atheism? How can someone be both a Christian and an atheist? And, how does all this apply to the phrase, “worry is practical atheism”?
From Webster’s Concise Encyclopedia we see that atheism is:
“. . . critique and denial of metaphysical beliefs in God or divine beings. Unlike agnosticism, which leaves open the question of whether there is a God, atheism is a positive denial.”
So, how can one be both a Christian and an atheist? How does it apply to the saying, “worry is practical atheism?”
In essence, when you worry–when you find yourself in life situations where you either have no idea how you got there, any idea of how you can possibly get out, or what the resolution is going to be, yet there’s this burning desire inside you wherein you desperately need those answers–what you’re really saying is:
- “I believe in a God who is in control of the universe, but not in one who is in control of my life.”
- “I believe in a God powerful enough to speak matter into existence, but not in one powerful enough to guide me through my current crisis.”
- “I believe in an all-knowing God, but my problem obviously caught him by surprise.”
You believe in God. Yet, you don’t.
So when you hear scripture like . . .
“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? …
Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
1 Peter 3:13-15
Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.
. . . you’ll either believe . . . or you won’t.
Or, as another wise sage once said, “Do, or do not. There is no try.”