I heard a phrase during an excerpt my pastor read this weekend from Crazy Love that has haunted me. In the service, he finished the quote and went on to something else, but I’m not sure I heard anything past it. What has been bothering me is this: If you were to stop believing in God, how would your life be different, or would anyone notice?
How would my life be any different? Would anyone notice? I think it’s haunting me because I’m not quite sure the answers are what I want them to be. Take a minute to think about your own life. Would anyone outside of maybe your spouse really notice if today you stopped believing in God? The sense of immediacy I get from this is smothering. But it also brings to mind one of the great things about being a Christian, which is that you get a true sense of what living really is and just how temporary our lives are. James Dobson put it this way in Straight Talk to Men: “Wisdom, you see, comes from understanding the temporary nature of life.”
The people that really change things, really make a difference for God in the world are the ones that understand that you have to get beyond the immediate. It’s a great paradox of Christianity, like giving up your life in order to find out God’s will for your life and end up truly living the life that is meant for you. Or being humble in order to be lifted up by God. Or finding true freedom in being a slave to God. The only way to truly live a life marked by God and for God is to live a life that makes a very serious distinction between what is of God and what is of the world. It’s made clear in the New Testament by James when he says that if you are a friend to the world you are an enemy to God (4:4).
When you focus on eternal life, everything is put into a different focus. The immediate needs and demands on your time will feel frivolous at best. It’s the only way to get rid of those nagging and guilty feelings of what you could be doing. The emails will always be there. Someone will always have a problem. But you will not always have time to prepare your soul for the next life. So, to change the way you life your life so that someone would notice if you stopped believing in God, trade the immediate for the eternal. There’s a pretty high rate of return.