Happy Father’s Day! I wasn’t a fatherless victim, rather my disobedience through foolish choices and decisions separated me from God and my parents, resulting in loneliness, confusion and insecurity. But for believers led by the Spirit, the apostle Paul wrote:
“So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’” 1
An Atheist Response…
Scott wrote from Scotland, saying: “I imagine you get quite a lot of mail.”
“I’m sure people focus on a limited number of subjects. Mine may or may not be a regular one. BTW, I’m 36, live in Glasgow, Scotland, and I’ve been married a year. We’re expecting our first child in September and can’t wait. I work in the financial crime prevention industry and support my hometown soccer team.
“I’m interested to know about your born-again journey, but not from a point of personal salvation, lost or searching. I am an atheist (hope you won’t mind responding) and would really like your take on being born again and if that would be a path you feel you would have walked had your life gone another way?
“I suppose this letter is a journey for me regarding the other side of the coin regarding faith. I do have a view of salvation that is often linked to trauma. I don’t mean to be blunt with that, but it is part of why I would love to hear your side and thoughts.
“I would also love to know more about how your faith has shaped the decades and if you’ve ever had personal concerns that a belief in God may be a coping mechanism (again, sorry to be blunt). Hope to hear from you soon. Best, Scott, Scotland.”
Responding in Love…
I enjoy hearing from folks regardless of their beliefs. I’m not easily offended, since I’ve been forgiven of such great offense. I’m familiar with how “…the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” 2
As far as Scott’s question about walking this path had my life gone another way? I was raised going to church. I believe God would have just used another way to draw me to His will. Like I shared in the April View, He put a desire in my heart to serve, and in last month’s View, a calling and purpose. The apostle Paul wrote:
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” 3
Responding to Trauma…
I share Scott’s view that salvation is often linked to trauma, such as the apostle Paul’s thorn in the flesh he shared about in his second letter to the Corinthians, chapter 12. Only God’s grace was sufficient for his survival. Grace is God’s ability to work in us to do what we cannot do in our flesh; His unearned, undeserved, and unmerited favor. Most individuals in the Bible had trauma in their lives before crying out to God for help. In my book, Will You Die for Me?, I share a chapter on Jailhouse Religion, describing how many come to Christ when faced with jail, only to fall away once released. Some call it a crutch, but on the other hand, I needed a wheelchair. Not a literal one, but someone to carry me the rest of my life into eternity – Jesus Christ.
After the crimes in ’69, it was devastating to deal with the pain that I had caused others, including my own family. I had a lot of resentment towards those I blamed as well as anger towards myself. I tried psychology, but I found few answers for my fears. I was looking for help from someone but found none until I took responsibility for my sin in 1975, surrendering my life to Christ.
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” 4
Scott how faith shaped my life, and if it may only e a coping mechanism. When I responded to God’s love, my new life began to take shape, “…faith works through love.” 5 His love gave me the desire to be rooted and grounded in love ad to comprehend His love to the fullest. His love empowers me to love others, for “We love Him because he first loved us.” 6 Simply, it’s God’s love that has shaped me for a victorious life through faith. See: Love is ALL You Need.
“For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith. And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God.” 7
Lastly, a psychologist who doesn’t know the power of God’s love may call my experience a coping mechanism, or maybe religiosity. But Scott, even if your child responding to your love builds positive coping skills into his/her life; without faith in the power of the blood of Christ, the power of the resurrection, and the power of the Holy Spirit, your child will be left hopeless for everlasting life.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” 8
A Prayer for You…
Father, today I choose to believe truth. You sent Jesus into the world. He became my sin, He took my punishment, He went to hell in my place. He came out of the grave and conquered my sin. In Him, I have the gift of righteousness. I thank You that I am righteous apart from my performance. Today I acknowledge that You have never hurt me. You are not judging me. You are not the source of pain in my life. My own sin and unbelief have brought me pain. I will never again believe that You are hurting me. I will abide in Your peace because I am righteous in Jesus! You love me, You accept me, You are with me. You have made be accepted in the Beloved! In Jesus Name, Amen!
Remember: “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” 9
Scripture References (NKJV):
1) Rom. 8:15, NLT
2) 2 Cor. 4:4, KJV
3) Eph. 2:10, NLT
4) Heb. 4:16
5) Gal. 5:6b
6) 1 Jn. 4:19
7) 1 Jn. 5:4,5 NLT
8) John 3:16
9) John 4:24