Repost from 2015. Extensively edited, rewritten, and corrected.
For those of us who spent a significant part of our lives in the Christian church, our eventual defection from Christianity was an important and traumatic event in our lives. People who are still devoted followers of Jesus grossly underestimate the travail people go through when they finally come to a place where they realize God is Dead.
For years we sang praises to God. We prayed and read God’s sacred Word. We devoted our time, talent, and money to the advancement of God’s kingdom.
We were not nominal believers. When the doors of the church were open, we were there. For those of us who were pastors, everything was secondary to our devotion to the work of the ministry. With great gusto we sang, “Souls for Jesus is our battle cry. Soul for Jesus is our battle cry. We never will give in while souls are lost in sin. Souls for Jesus is our battle cry.”
When we sang songs like All to Jesus I Surrender, we meant it. No part of our lives was untouched by our zeal, love, and devotion to Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
When evangelists called for people to come forward to pray, we were the first people down front on our knees before God.
We counted the cost and Jesus was worth it. We were, in every way, true-blue, on-fire, Holy Ghost-filled, sanctified slaves of Jesus.
The Bible said that we were the Bride and Jesus was the Bridegroom. We were happily married to Jesus. He was our best friend, our confidante, and lover. No one compared to Jesus. He was the sum of our existence.
And then one day, perhaps years of days, we found ourselves separated or divorced from the God we had loved and served. Irreconcilable differences were the official cause of our divorce.
The journey . . . We spent so much time talking about our destination that we spent little time discussing our journey. Now, all we seem to talk about is the journey we are on.
The journey takes us away from all that is familiar. All the trappings of our life with God become more distant as we walk, perhaps run, farther and farther away.
For many of us, we eventually reached a place where, to our utter surprise, we found out that God is dead.
Few ponder this thought without shedding tears and lamenting the loss.
Well-meaning Christians earnestly implore us to trace back our steps to that place where we lost our first love. They tell us God will not chase us, but if we will only return home our marriage can be saved and all will be forgiven.
But it is too late.
For us, the God of Christianity is dead, and like all of the many ideas shaped by human hands, this God can’t be resurrected from the dead.
We lament what we have lost, but we are hopeful about what we have gained.
It took the death of God for us to realize that life, this life, is worth living.
We refuse to surrender one more moment of time to a God made by humans; a deaf, dumb, and blind God who only exists in the imaginations of men who can’t bear the thought of this life being all there is.
But what about the God that is not made by man?
For the atheist, such a God does not exist. All gods are human inventions.
For the agnostic, for the deist, God remains a possibility, but in practice, even this God shows little or no life.
So on we go down an uncertain, but exciting, road.
Who knows what the future may hold. With no holy book, preacher, or God to lead the way, we are left with a wide-open road littered with the potholes of uncertainty. Uncertainty may, at times, cause us to fear, but we are also excited about the possibilities uncertainty brings.
Some day, perhaps today, tomorrow, or twenty years from now, we will face the ugly, unwelcome specter of death. As the COVID-19 virus stalks the human race, death seem all too close and real for us all.
Will we go to the grave with as much certainty as a person who believes that a life of eternal bliss awaits all who love God?
Will we be tempted, as our breath grows labored, to offer a feeble prayer to the God who died?
Will our final moments be those of integrity and commitment to what we said we believed?
Will we prove in death that what we believed was good enough to live by and good enough to die by?
Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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