10/18/17 Cesar about 35
So should we conclude God doesn’t exist because church people don’t act like Christians?
That’s basically what Cesar, about 35, told me in an outreach conversation today. He gave the pedophile scandal among priests as evidence for his doubts about God’s existence, and the hypocrites he saw attending mass in the morning and drinking out of brown paper bags in the afternoon. He was basically saying God doesn’t exist because of the sin and hypocrisy among church members.
But what, exactly, does that prove? For people looking for a reason to doubt God, it provides a convenient excuse based on the bad conduct of others – the perfect way to dodge accountability for one’s own actions. Cesar went on about the misconduct of church people, making himself look innocent by comparison.
But instead of allowing him to turn the focus of our conversation to the misconduct of church people, I turned the focus on God’s holy standard, such as the Ten Commandments. How did his conduct compare to God’s standard? Instead of judging others, how about using them to judge himself?
During the course of our conversation, something miraculous happened to Cesar. He stopped calling himself an atheist! He didn’t even stop at being an agnostic. Suddenly he was a sinner trying to justify himself before a holy God. He had stopped judging others and began to judge himself, and his focus turned toward wondering how he could be justified to God.
What happened in such a short time? Romans 3 says “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.” Cesar’s confident assertions of atheism had fallen apart under the scrutiny of God’s holy law. His mouth had been silenced and he was ready to listen.
I explained how Romans says that God’s law can’t save us, but it does let us know we need to be saved: “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.”
Cesar had become conscious of his sin, and was now ready to hear about the forgiveness that comes through a faith relationship with Jesus. It was a welcome message, though I believe that in such a short time we had only talked on an intellectual level. Let’s pray that as he processes what he heard the Holy Spirit will reach his heart!