Some persons don’t believe in God. They are called atheists. Some believe it is impossible to know if there is a God. They are called Agnostics. Some are just not sure. They are called doubters. Others theoretically believe in God but question whether He really has any dealing with them.
I hate labels. They divide people into groups. If they are against what we believe we call them “Anti’s”. If they don’t tic like we tic, we call them heretics. Labeling people is bad for a number of reasons. First, who can really know the hearts of others? Who is able to judge the inner thoughts of others? Besides, when you label someone, they may change but your label still sticks. It is just another way and ‘not knowing people’ – just put them aside in a group.
Since no human being has died and returned to tell us about God and what happens after death, we are left with our own thoughts, our early teaching and life experiences. Years ago Harry Emerson Fosdick wrote, “We commonly suppose ourselves to be served only by forces we know about and consciously acknowledge, but our lives are constantly enriched by ministries we are unaware of or utterly misconceive.” He then went on to talk about the long ages when man did not understand the physical universe as we do today, but still the sun warmed him, the rain refreshed him, the returning seasons fed him, and the stars guided his wandering boats. How many atheists lived back then? How many wondered about God? How many infidels were there?
The fact that Cyrus, King of Babylon, professed himself to be a devotee of Bel-Merodack and Nebo (Babylonian deities), and acknowledged no relationship or obligation to Israel’s God, did not free him from the Almighty. God said to him, “I am the Lord, and there is no other, beside me there is no God; I gird you, though you do not know me” (Isaiah 45:5).
God does not exist because we know Him, or deny Him. Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for our sins of man, whether we believe that or not. The eternal power and Godhead is mentioned by Paul in Romans One, “Because that when they Knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts and creeping things” (Romans 1:21-23).
When we were in Singapore, I could look down from the auditorium on the second floor and could see hundreds who had gathered to worship a large image of Buddha. They brought food for their dead relatives. You say “that’s foolish, dead people can’t eat!” We take flowers to the grave of our loved ones but they can’t smell! Besides, they took the food home and ate it. We leave the flowers there to wilt. All I’m saying is, how would you act if that was what you were taught from your youth up? We call them idol worshippers, but that is all they know. But know this; they want to worship God, even the one they don’t know.
When Paul was in Athens, he spoke to religious people this way, “As I passed by I beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, ‘To the Unknown God’. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you” (Acts 17:22-23). Hidden deep within the heart of all mankind is a secret desire to worship God. Paul continues his instructions to the Athenians, “God that made the world and all things therein . . . dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands . . . seeing he giveth to all life and breath and all things. . . that we should seek the Lord . . . though he be not far from every one of us . . .forasmuch then, as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think of the godhead as likened unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device” (Acts 18:23-29).
Take a simple test. Go out under the stars tonight and wonder. Who made these stars and a billion like them? Look at the vast law-abiding universe. Who brings the Purple Martins to our bird house every year, right on time (Last week of February)? Who guides their flight? Gaze into the eyes of a new born child. Better still, be there when your wife gives birth and marvel at the miracle. Consider the life of Christ and his willingness to endure the cross. Hear his cry, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do”. Contemplate those millions who believe in Christ’s resurrection and are willing to die for him. Marvel at the beauty of the life of an aged Christian. Cease to label yourself and others. Open your Bible and read the gospel (good news) of John. As Jesus said, “Be not faithless but believing”. It’s never too late until it’s too late.