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There’s something about betrayal that enrages us. After all you never hear of a new baby being named Judas Iscariot or Benedict Arnold. Unfortunately betrayal isn’t just something we see in the movies. There’s a kind of betrayal that we experience in the spiritual journey.
Let me tell you about a guy who used to be a member of this church back in the late 1970s named "Joe". He was a gifted musician and speaker, and he was highly involved in ministry here during our early years. "Joe" wrote music, he led our church in worship, and he and his family were part of our church family. His musical gifts didn’t go unnoticed, and eventually a Christian music producer contracted him to compose a children’s musical. But "Joe" never finished that musical, because while he sat where you sat, led us in worship, traveled to other churches speaking and preaching, inward doubts were building. Finally "Joe" concluded that God was not real at all, in his own words, "I discovered that there is no basis for believing that a God exists." By 1983 "Joe" had to admit to himself and to his friends that he was an atheist. He joined the atheist movement, he wrote a letter to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin explaining why he was no longer a Christian, he went onto the Phil Donahue show to encourage others to leave the Christian faith, and eventually he wrote a book.
Now think about "Joe’s" story. He sat where you sit, he sang what you sing, he read what you read in the Bible, he heard what you hear. He looked and acted, sang and spoke like a devoted followers of Jesus Christ, yet one day he threw it all away, rejected every last part…Betrayed.
In preparation for today’s sermon I wrote "Joe" a letter, just to introduce myself as the pastor of the church he was once a member of and to mention the irony of me being a former atheist who became a Christian, and him being raised in a Christian home only to give his life to atheism. Here’s what he wrote me:
"Dear Tim, Nice to hear from you. I remember the church with fondness, mainly for many of the members…The bottom line for me now is this: Christianity is not true. The virgin birth and the resurrection did not happen…We don’t need Jesus in order to live a happy, fulfilled, meaningful, moral life. In fact, it is much easier without Christianity: if we truly followed the teachings and example of Jesus, the world would be in a worse mess than it
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