Sermon for 26 July 2009
As we listen for the Word of God,
let us pray:
God our maker,
you formed the world and all that is in it,
and you desire all people to share its plenty;
help us to look for the possibilities you bring,
that we may be fed by your justice,
for the sake of Christ. Amen.
2 Samuel 11.1-15
Fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God.’
That’s Psalm 14.1, today’s psalm. Interestingly, it’s also the first line of Psalm 53, which is nearly identical to Psalm 14.
These are strong words. Fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God’.
Who are these people who deny God ‘in their hearts’, people that Psalms 14 and 53 call ‘fools’?
They aren’t automatically people who find it hard to believe that there’s a God. There are people who have intellectual problems with believing in God. Are they the people whom Psalm 14 names ‘fools’? Not necessarily.
Karen and I once lived a couple of doors away from an old man who has since died. He’d emigrated to Australia from Greece, and set his family up in a farm in central Queensland. Drought and poor prices had combined to drive them off the land.
This experience had left this formerly devout Greek Orthodox man to stop believing in God, and declare himself an atheist. In fact, he loudly declared himself an atheist to anyone who would listen. He had never forgiven God for what had happened. Every time we spoke to him, he talked to us about God, the God he couldn’t forgive.
Can you get the disconnection? He said he didn’t believe in God, but he couldn’t let God go. It seems to me that he had a relationship with God. He was angry with God!—very much like Job in the Old Testament.
Psalm 14.1 says, ‘Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”’ This old man said, ‘There is no God’ with his lips, but he didn’t say it in his heart. He still had a relationship with God. It was turbulent, it was troubled, it was conflicted. But he would not, could not, let God go. I saw him holding on to the God he couldn’t believe in, in his demand for God to be fair. It was possible to see something of God in him, even when he couldn’t believe.
So who are the ‘fools’ who say ‘in their hearts’ there is no God? Some of these fools are atheists. Some of them are Christians. Continue reading