An atheist factory is known by many different titles: Lukewarm Christian, nominal Christian, professing Christian, Laodicean, hypocrite, etc.
Atheist factories are easy to spot. The gospel transforms what they do on Sunday mornings, who they vote for in November, and what kind of bumper stickers they put on their cars, but that’s as far as the gospel reaches, as it is prohibited from going any further in their lives: It doesn’t transform their compassion for those in abject poverty, their choices of entertainment, their speech, their dress, their marriage, their child rearing, or what they do on a Friday night. After all, they say, that’s “legalism!”
To them, God is just a moralistic, therapeutic, vending machine in the sky summoned upon like a genie to “get us through” whatever bumps we encounter on the road of life like a cosmic Dr. Phil. Yet, when it comes to dealing with their sin and depravity, or with matters such as obedience, holiness, and sanctification, then it’s quickly time to put God back on the shelf.
They only want Him to come out of His lantern when they’ve been made uncomfortable by life, but they want nothing to do with His commands. So there He remains on the shelf until life’s next tragedy or trial (or wedding or funeral), and all the while they drown out the Holy Spirit with copious doses of intoxicatingly happy, chipper, positive, and encouraging sermons, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and K-Love.
I recall an encounter I had a couple years ago while eating at a sub shop with my family one day after church. We were dressed nicely, we prayed over our meal, and the kids were behaving well. A woman approached us and queried of us–not if we were Christians–but if we were Jehovah’s Witnesses.
It is to our shame that when a family’s appearance and behavior leads people to conclude that they must be Jehovah’s Witnesses (or because my wife and I have more than the accepted standard in Christendom of 2.5 kids, people assume we must be Mormons). The American church has not only adopted the philosophies of the culture around them when it comes to life, but they’ve also been so successful in their efforts to look and act like the world–for the supposed purpose of attracting the world–that now the world can’t even tell a difference between us and them (and most times there isn’t any difference).
One of the greatest causes of atheism today is the lives of Christians who honor God with their lips but their hearts (and observable lifestyles) are far from Him.
I, just like the atheist (and any other reasonable person), am repulsed by the shallow, mile-wide, inch-deep lifestyles of most professing Christians in the West. But where the atheist sees the average American Christian and uses their hypocrisy as a justification to reject God, I see the same open and blatant hypocrisy of professing Christians as a confirmation of what Jesus warned us about.
These cultural Christians do not fool God, nor should they fool you. As long as there have been wheat, there have been tares. As long as there have been sheep there have been goats. The Bible acknowledges the existence of the tares and goats, but their mere existence does not “prove” God does not exist (no matter how much the atheist tries to make that conclusion). These pseudo-Christians are spoken of by our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 7:13-14,
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
and Matthew 7:21-23,
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’
Jesus even tells us how we can spot these false professors by how they respond to Jesus words (see Matthew 7:24-27).
When your life draws near to the end and you reflect on how you’ve lived, will your life been an example of God’s grace, with a myriad of people who were drawn to Christ because your lifestyle matched the gospel that you claimed to believe, or will you be guilty of creating a plethora of anti-theists borne out of their contacts and experiences with you? Do not be fooled, you are leaving an impression on those around you, but what impression is it?