Psalm 14 starts like this:
Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”
Whatever Psalm 14 says, I prefer to withhold judgement. Let me tell you a story.
Karen and I used to live in West End, an inner-city suburb of Brisbane. We had a neighbour two doors down, an old Greek man who had come out to Australia to farm the land in central Queensland. As we all know, Australia is a pretty unforgiving place for farmers. This poor man had lost everything through a series of prolonged droughts. He was never able to forgive God for this. He’d been a Greek Orthodox Christian, but after this experience he became an atheist. We used to visit and we’d drink coffee and eat baklava. He loved our visits, because he could talk at length about the God he said he didn’t believe in!
When I listened to him, I was reminded of Job in the Hebrew Scriptures. I began to feel that God hadn’t let go of him; and because God hadn’t let go of him, this atheist still had a relationship with God. It was a strange relationship in which he was permanently ticked off with God. He complained as much as Job! I feel he wanted to hear an answer to his questions, one he couldn’t hear, an answer that would restore his faith.
I believed then and I believe now that God had not let him go; and that God would never let go of him.
What authority do I have to say that? I have the authority of three stories Jesus told, three parables that Luke puts together in chapter fifteen of his Gospel. I’m talking about the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Lost Son.