We are in part five of a seven part series in which I’m highlighting the “Best of” quotes from Catalyst this year.
Craig Groeschel was outstanding as he talked about the “Practical Atheist.”
He defined a “practical atheist” as someone who believes God exists but doesn’t live like it!
- Craig reminded us of something Bill Hybels said, “The way I was doing the work of God was destroying the work of God in me.” (Does this sound familiar to anyone?)
- Some time ago Craig realized that he was “a full-time pastor and a part-time follower of Christ.” (You can read more about that realization and how he addressed it – here)
Craig said that when we are practical atheists…
- We start to believe our effort is better than God’s power. He encouraged us to not hang our self-worth on the “success” or lack thereof in the church and life. He said, “If I blame myself for the decline, someday I may take the credit for the increase.” Honestly now… we Type A’s have a problem with this one.
- We believe that our private life doesn’t affect our public ministry. Craig said that he came to a point where he realized that “The only good I did was in church.” He had reached a point where all of the “good” that he did was public or “professional”. The private/personal good-doing was missing. Oh God, this one rang my bell. You know what? It’s so easy for pastors to become “Professional Doers of Good Deeds”.
- We believe that we must please people more than we should please God. Craig said when he was creating sermons he would thinking more about what would bring people in than what would bring honor to God. The other side of this is not addressing things that God would want addressed for fear of offending people (“churched” or otherwise). DANG IT! Again… he rang my bell!
So how did he escape the trap of practical atheism? He asked God to “disturb” him!
He found and prayed the prayer of Sir Francis Drake…
Disturb us, Lord, when We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.
Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.
Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
My prayer… “God disturb me. I am good at being good. I know how to be a professional Christian. I know the words to use and the rituals to perform. I don’t want to live like that… ever… again. I want the love and the truth of my Leader, Jesus, to flow out of me and engage the people I meet. I want something fresh, new, powerful, Godlike flowing out of me, touching the lives of those around and beyond me. I want you Father God to live in and threw me. Forget “good”… give me God.”