The Christian Atheist
The Christian Atheist: Believing in God but Living As If He Doesn't Exist
March 20, 2010
256 pp., $14.09
Charles Blondin was a world-renowned tightrope artist and acrobat. On June 30, 1859, before a stunned crowd of 100,000 excited onlookers, Blondin was the first person to cross Niagara Falls by tightrope. He crossed 1,100 feet on a single three-inch hemp cord, strung from 160 feet above the falls on one side to a spot 270 feet above the falls on the other. The breathless assembly watched him accomplish, step by slow step, a feat most believed impossible.
But Blondin was just getting started. In the years to come, the daring entertainer crossed again and again: on stilts, in a sack, even pushing a wheelbarrow! The story goes that an exuberant onlooker called out, "You could cross with a man in that wheelbarrow!" Blondin agreed and invited the man to climb in. The spectator nervously declined.
My dysfunctional relationship with God was often like that. I've always believed in God, just not enough to trust him with my whole life in his wheelbarrow. I knew God could fulfill his promises, but I was never sure he'd do it for me. My selfish Christian Atheist view was that God existed for me, rather than I for him. If he'd do what I thought he should, I'd trust him more. If he'd come through for me, I'd give him more of my life. If he made my life better and pain-free, I'd believe him more passionately. But anytime God didn't meet my expectations, we had a problem. God created me in his image. I returned the favor and created him in mine. The kind of God I wanted to believe in was this: if he's not what I want, then he can't have my whole life….
Every day, we'll choose to live out our belief in God instead of believing in the world or ourselves. When we truly know God, rather than living ashamed of our past of doubting God's love for us, we can daily enjoy his grace and unconditional love and acceptance. As our faith and prayer life grow, we'll see his goodness—even in our trials—and grow to forgive as he has freely forgiven us. Instead of believing we can never change, we can let his unlimited power transform us and lead us out of a life paralyzed by fear and worry. Because God isn't just someone we believe in but is our life, we won't seek security and happiness in the things of the world but will find them in his presence and will. As he consumes us, strengthened by his church, we'll seize opportunities to share his love with people daily. The choice is ours.
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Previous articles by or about Craig Groeschel in Christianity Today and its sister publications include:
Full-Time Pastor but only Part-Time Follower of Jesus | What it took to find my real ministry. (Leadership Journal, April 1, 2007)
Money-Back Tithing | The Money-Back Guarantee. The friend of consumers everywhere. And at LifeChurch, the promise now applies to tithing. (Leadership Journal, January 1, 2007)
High-Tech Circuit Riders | Satellite churches are discovering a new way to grow the body of Christ. (August 31, 2005)