Wednesday, November 23, 2016

When Good Christians Act Like Atheists and Idolaters

A Thanksgiving Day Reminder
(By Rev. Kerry S. Doyal - Grace Bible Church -

Want to act and look like an unbeliever? Care to have core traits that make you indistinguishable from atheists or agnostics?

Good news! It doesn't take becoming a serial killer, a suicide terrorist or a child abuser. According to Romans 1:21-23 all it takes is... well, read it for yourself:

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened."

"Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles" (NIV).

It is one small step for man yet one giant leap for mankind from not honoring and thanking God to becoming foolish and functional idolaters. To know about God and not give Him due credit (glory) or properly thank Him is to be no different than your run of the mill atheist or blatant idolater. Ouch!

Arguably, the fearful pagan sacrificing chickens to appease an unknown Creator is closer to true worship of God than we educated, technology driven, pure materialists who live without properly praising or thanking Him.

To ascribe credit for one person's work to another is to be guilty of lying. In this case, it is bearing false witness about our Ultimate Neighbor. It is to misrepresent the one (or impersonal forces) who did not do the work - giving them undue credit.

To not laud the Lord is to strip away His deserved praise and thanks - the One who did the work. Me taking credit for the Mona Lisa or the Magna Carta is beyond funny. It is insulting to all involved.

One of the dangers of pure atheistic evolution (life came from time, chance and non-living matter) is to ascribe some of God's best work to nothing but cosmic luck.

To assert that our beautiful mountains, that awesome sky and those humbling oceans "just happened" is to mute their testimony of their Creator.

In rejecting the work of the Creator, we become deaf to the heavens when they declare the glory of God (see Psalms 19 & 8). Nature's songs of praise cannot be heard because there is no One to whom it would sing.

Even if it were left up to the rocks to cry out, we could not hear them if they did. Beyond sad and tragic, that is blasphemous - if not by design then by default.

It is not the loss of Adam and Eve to evolution that is most tragic - though the biblical / theological magnitude of that cannot be overstated. It is that God is banished from the garden of our weedy hearts, leaving us less than fig-leaf clad. And we are left to turn the created into the Creator.

Seeing God for Who He is - His awesome character - is the basis of praise. We give or "ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name" (Ps. 29:2). To understate His greatness in any realm naturally limits and minimizes the rightful praise we offer Him.

Thanksgiving focuses on what God has given or provided us. It flows from our acknowledging that every good and perfect gift has indeed come down from our heavenly Father (James 1:17). We thank Him for gifts He bestows because of Who He is, for what He has done for us, or mercifully, not done or allowed to happen to us.

Is gratitude a struggle for you? Could some of it be dealt with by remembering Who is Whom and whom is not? Do you need in any way to re-enthrone the Creator, knowing our rightfully jealous God will not share His glory with anyone? Careful meditation on passages like John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16, 17 might help refocus your heart.

A focus on God - rather than mere gratitude or guilt for all our stuff, health and "blessings" - will best restore us to being people who are truly thankful in ways that give Him more glory. It is then we will do as the psalmists says:

"Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice." (Psalm 105:1-3 - NIV)
"Ascribe to the LORD, O mighty ones, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength." (Psalm 29:1)

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