Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: We call out to God expecting God to be a genie and grant us our every wish and prayer.

Believing and not Believing

The Genie God

April 30, 2017

I’m going to jump right in and get right to it, then take a step back and talk about this series.

I’m going to read something I found on a Christian Internet forum. The title was “I no longer believe in God!” This is part of what was written ~

Now, I can't say that I've deconverted into Atheism, mainly because I find the logic behind Atheism harder to accept, but the God that we worship, love, and pray to, has become completely un-agreeable to me. There have been so many reasons why I just can't be a Christian anymore, two of them are mainly theological holes, and above all, the failure of prayer that I've observed in my life and the life of others.”

The writer spoke of many tragedies in her life and in the world at large which she found reprehensible . . . She continued –

“So this (and many other world reports) lead me to question - how can we believe in a God of prayer? If God won't answer something as big as that, why would I believe God would answer my prayers? I will admit, it is very depressing for me to write this because I have such a huge attachment to Jesus. In my heart I still love him, but God is just like an absent father to me.”

That’s really powerful and very real! Someone responded with this - - -

“I feel for you. I have lost my faith in God too. I had recently experienced a tragedy. I think I might be an atheist but I still believe in Jesus and sometimes pray to Him. . . . I have numerous health issues and have experienced numerous tragedies and I was not protected from my pain like I needed to be. I feel I am just an atheist but I still consider myself a Christian. It makes me feel better.”

Someone responded to these folks from the Christian side of things - - -

“No offense intended towards you, because I know nothing about you, but I tend to find this type of thinking as selfish. It was never about a relationship with God to you. It was always about you getting what you want. And if you don't get what you want, then you're going to act like God doesn't exist.

The Christian life isn't about getting what you want and throwing a fit if you have some struggles. Where did God say the Christian life would be easy? Where did He say the answer to every question would be "right away sir!"

Jesus Himself suffered a painful death here on earth. The disciples didn't have it easy. Name one character in the bible who had it easy? That's life. It's difficult, painful, and messy. Yet, we're the ones who sin and make it more difficult and messy, but we blame God for our doing. We blame God when there are consequences for our actions. We blame God for not having all the stuff we want.”

Finally, another person added - - - - and this will lead us into our series - - - -

“...You do know that God is not an ATM, right? Who told you God would answer your prayers like a genie making wishes come true? I don't recall reading that anywhere.”

Now, I’m not going to make light of the first 2 comments I read. Those are very real people, with very real struggles. And in many respects, our struggles are not very different than theirs. For many of you, you’ve probably gone through more. We may have questioned, debated, yelled and screamed, cried out and maybe even cursed at God - - - but in the end, we come to the belief that God is real and we believe in Him - - - even in the midst of our unbelief

In many respects, this is the topic of our series for the next 4 weeks! Believing and not believing - - - sometimes all at the same time! We have the expectation that when we pray to God, God should grant our every request! After all, prayers for healing, for jobs, for marriages, for our kids, even for good weather on a vacation are all noble prayers . . . but we’ve learned they don’t all get answered the way we wish they would.

There are a lot of people who say, "God doesn't exist. That's crazy ridiculous." Even those who grew up attending worship, who believed, but had a crisis of faith, something happened, someone did something, they were hurt, they were disappointed, and they say, "I want to believe but I just can't."

I would argue that so many people that live in that zone, they are not really rejecting the true God. Instead, they're rejecting what I would call a distorted view of God. They're rejecting a distorted view of who they think God should be and who they want God to be.

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