Some people believe that the world is governed by chance, not by God, and that morality is man-made, not divine. This ideology did not start today. David identified atheists and called them fools: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’.” This verse in fact occurs in two passages in the Psalms (14:1 and 53:1).
It is obvious that one of the characteristics of fools is that they do not believe in the existence of God. Their statements do not literally deny the existence of God but give them the impetus to continue in their wicked ways. These people are not only foolish but wicked as well. They’ve come to believe that God does not exist and that they are not accountable to Him at the end of their journey here on earth. This belief has given them the license to live freely and do what pleases them.
The unfortunate thing is that more and more people are joining them. Are they possessed by the devil? I do not think so because even the devil and his demons know that God exists: “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe — and shudder!” (James 2:19). What could make man deny the existence of his creator?
It is obvious that the devil cannot outrightly tell anyone not to believe in God but can bring about circumstances and events that can create doubt in the mind of believers. So many in the Church nowadays claim that God exists, but do not revere or fear Him. When the custodians of the Gospel are playing games and politics with God, how do we expect followers and unbelievers to take Christianity seriously? “As it is written: ‘God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you’” (Romans 2:24).
In addition to this, when church leaders are robbing congregants in the name of God, what kind of testimony is that to the unbelieving world? In my country, many people are leaving the church because they have been shortchanged by their pastors. There is a trending news item about a pastor in Nigeria who is selling rapture tickets at the rate of $751 to Christians who want to go to Heaven. The world sees this and turns its back on the Church.
Hermeneutical perversion of the Word of God is another factor that contributes to the growth of atheism. When worldly messages are regularly preached, and fake promises are made to worshipers, people tend to be disillusioned. And when lies are dished from the pulpit, believers are inevitably pushed down the road of apostasy.
Most people who say that there is no God do not know what they are doing. Christians should emulate Christ and pray for them on a regular basis and ask God to forgive them. Instead of condemning and attacking atheists, we should regularly intercede for the mercy of God to triumph over the judgment that they are inflicting on themselves. A little act of Christian kindness and love of Christ can go a long way in making atheists see the presence of God in our lives. Instead of getting into drawn-out arguments with them, we should kindly and respectful engage with them.
Jesus died for all, and salvation is for all. Too many image-bearers of God are being destroyed for lack of knowledge. For us to attract atheists to the saving knowledge of Christ, we must regularly intercede for them, show them love and kindness and tell them the truth about our God.