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Skeptics

blog_skeptics

Today we’re gonna tackle a very demanding topic— and because of that, it’s a hugely distorted topic— and because of that, it’s commonly dodged topic— especially in the context of a typical Sunday worship service.

In fact, dealing with today’s theme is SO challenging, I gotta confess:  I’ve ducked it myself for over 30 years…but I’m not duckin’ it anymore.  See, I promised God when I started this church, I was never gonna skip the hard verses…not ever again.

 

But before I show you the hard verses we’re not skipping…?  I need you to know:  Some of my favorite people are SKEPTICS.  I’m not certain I can even tell you why, cuz I’m not personally wired that way.  But maybe it’s because I’ve spent my whole life hanging out with church people. 

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about CHURCH PEOPLE, it’s this:  Most church people eventually figure out that the way you do “the church dance” is— you pretend that everything is great, even when it’s not! 

Part of the reason we do that is cuz we grab certain Bible verses outta context or add or our meaning making ‘em appear to mean stuff God never intended them to mean!  For example, in the old King James Bible, II Corinthians 5:17 reads like this: 

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”[1]

But do you see that three-letter word,  “all”?  That’s not in the original text.  It got added in by the King James editors nearly 1600 years after Paul first wrote it.  Now what IS true is this:  If you’re in Christ, you ARE new!  You possess new power.  You live a new life.  You have a new focus and a new purpose plus a brand-spanking NEW do-over! 

But what you AREN’T, as long as you’re still inside your own skin, is “ALL” new.  But see, a whole lot of well-meaning church people have glopped onto that three-letter word and decided— on the basis of a word God never put there— that church people are supposed to be totally different than other people. 

And because we think we ARE different— we start ACTING different.  Really different…as in odd.  I call it, “The Weird-for-Jesus Movement.”  And most church people have either been in that movement or we WILL be.  And I say “weird,” cuz here’s how this false attitude gets unpacked:  A new believer discovers an exciting new relationship with Christ and decides that since “ALL” things gotta be new, he can’t act or think or feel the way normal people act or think or feel! 

Even though:  Although we are NEW in Christ, we’re not ALL new.  In this life, nobody ever achieves “TOTALLY HOLY.”  But since we think we’re supposed to act like we are, we gotta go underground with our less-than-holy real selves.  So we start hiding behind this “façade of TOTAL holiness”!  But since most everybody else in our Christian club also believes that they gotta talk funny and dress weird and pretend they’re totally holy, too…? 

Nobody seems to notice.  Nobody EXCEPT our SKEPTICAL friends.  Our church buddies are impressed by our antics, thinking: “The weirder you act, the more holy you must be!” 

Which is why I prefer…SKEPTICS.  Cuz skeptics don’t play to the crowd.  If you ask a skeptic how his day is going, hang on!  Cuz he’s liable to tell you! There’s a palpable, authentic honesty about the average skeptic that isn’t nearly as obvious among the Weird-for-Jesus crowd.

 

So whenever I ask a skeptic why he or she doesn’t believe, I’ve found that they rarely pull any punches.  I’ve also found that their belief system {or more accurately, their unbelief system} tends to hang on two very predictable responses. 

For example:  If I start talking about my faith or try to engage someone in talking about Jesus, the first response I hear from my skeptical friends is that they know a whole lotta church people— yet those so-called Christian people aren’t any different, certainly no better than them— which makes church people, what?

HYPOCRITES! 

Now in my past life, I’d try to dodge that bullet!  By telling my disbelieving friends that they can’t ever look at anybody but Jesus.  Cuz if you let some human block you from seeing just Jesus, you’re making them bigger than Him!  Which actually made sense to me…but it never made any sense to them. 

So now, when I hear someone say that Christians are a bunch of hypocrites— I usually agree!  OR…I’ll say, “Well, I hope you understand that most people who go to church aren’t actually Christians…!” 

I mean, just going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than sitting in a garage is gonna turn you into a Prius!  A person isn’t a Christian just cuz they claim to be one!  Neither is it the result of hearing a scary message about hell, so you repeat some prayer on the back of a booklet and even though you haven’t had a God-moment in 23 years, you’re banking your eternal destiny on some experience you had back in Junior High camp!  That’s not how it is! 

Now I don’t say it with that much hot sauce, but I almost always agree with them!  “You’re right!  Most church people ARE hypocrites!  We’re a messed-up, dysfunctional and thoroughly WEIRD conglomeration of losers!  That’s why I’m so amazed that God loves us…anywho.  And forgives us and keeps lavishing grace on us!”

The other response I get when I try to engage a SKEPTIC is an attack on the Bible.  Cuz if you can kick the legs out from beneath the accuracy of Scripture and if you can prove that the Bible isn’t God’s self-disclosure to us needy, desperate, earth-bound humanoids— then you don’t have to submit to it.  Instead, you can create your own kinda god. 

Cuz once you ditch the Bible, God has to conform to whatever you want Him to be.  Which, if you think about it, is WAY more arrogant than a faith-response— even though Christians are the ones who constantly called, arrogant! 

But what’s more arrogant…?  To humble yourself before the God Who revealed Himself thousands of years ago— and is still staking out the exact same claims today He was claiming back then…?  Or…to say, “Well, God is whoever I say he is”? 

I mean, really!  How did we Christians become the arrogant ones?  Here we are, willing to submit our lives and hearts to an understanding of God that has been the same yesterday, today and forever— and yet, our unbelieving counterparts want to re-write history into a story that fits the way they think things should be…?  And WE’RE the ones who are arrogant?

But that’s the response most skeptics default to.  They’ll find, for example, a subject that has undergone a centuries-long course correction— and then they’ll use the Bible’s perceived HYPOCRISY as a reason for justifying their doubts…and refusing to believe. 


            Which brings me to the hard words I’ve been dodging for 30 years.



[1] II Corinthians 5:17, KJVS

(To Be Continued in tomorrows blog)  This is an exerpt from "A Question Skeptics Rarely Get Answered".  Please listen to the sermon in the Archive or go to thecrossroadsaz.com. 

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