What Hitler did not believe and what Stalin did not believe and what Mao did not believe and what the SS did not believe and what the Gestapo did not believe and what the NKVD did not believe and what the Commissars, functionaries, swaggering executioners, Nazi doctors, Communist Party theoreticians, intellectuals, Brown Shirts, Black Shirts, gauleiters, and a 1,000 party hacks did not believe was that God was watching what they were doing. As far as we can tell, very few of those carrying out the horrors of the 20th century worried overmuch that God was watching what they were doing. That is, after all, the meaning of a secular society” (from The Devil’s Delusion by David Berlinski).
“A secular society!” In the part of the world that is called “the west,” this is what increasingly characterizes life. By its definition, a secular society excludes God and His Word from public life and practice. Three hundred years ago, the hardy (and hearty) Puritans believed in “practicing the presence of God”; that is, God was the integral part of their entire life. Today, we are rapidly learning how to practice His absence – how to make decisions, evaluate options, and live life without any reference to God. Joshua’s onetime mistake – “he asked not counsel of the Lord” – is the usual modus operandi of millions in this 21st century.
Secularism is not so much a root as a fruit of other insidious “isms.” It can be considered the illegitimate offspring of evolution and humanism. Having displaced God in the grand scheme of things, man’s darkened intellect finds it only logical to dispense with Him in everyday living. The Psalmist wrote: “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts” (Psa 10:4). And the Book of Job refers to “the paths of all that forget God” (Job 8:13).
There is something very subtle about secularism. It comes in like a fog rather than an avalanche. Unlike the militant atheist who fulminates against the existence of God, the secularist quietly goes about the business of making decisions, arranging priorities, structuring his life, and formulating his worldview having already assumed that God is not. He views those who believe in God, or for some bizarre reason think He has any relevance, like the crazy aunt in the attic. Believers in God are to be pitied for their troglodytic beliefs and perhaps kept hidden so they are not an embarrassment. Eventually, euthanasia might be the best course!
Someone has said that the opposite of love is not hate but indifference. That indifference can be seen in the well-known quote from a well-known businessman: “Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There’s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning” (Time Magazine, Jan. 13, 1997).
Notice the indifference to spiritual or eternal matters in the account of the wealthy farmer of Luke 12. He expressed no virulent opposition to God, no hatred of divine things. He is pictured as merely living his life with a total absence of any reference to God. This path of independence from God began in the Garden of Eden when Satan whispered his invariable slur, “Hath God said?” Adam was faced with a choice of living in dependence on God or striking out on a course of what he thought was self-sufficient living.
The term “God of the gaps” refers to the practice of people in a past day who attributed anything they could not understand (any “gaps” in their knowledge) to divine activity. Lightening, earthquakes, hurricanes, etc., were due to God or divine activity. As science uncovered “natural” reasons for these things – and the “gaps” disappeared – so did the need for a god to explain them. Now, secular science explains everything – or at least it will eventually. Consequently, God is irrelevant and unnecessary. He is merely a concept that our ignorant forefathers needed due to their lack of knowledge. A secular society is deluded into thinking it has “grown up” and no longer needs fairy tales.
Why is this one of Satan’s tools? Why is the marginalizing of the spiritual, the attempt to make our Maker irrelevant, the effort to confine Christianity to a corner of the basement (and then lock the door), part of the enemy’s strategy? Eliminating any reference to, concern for, or thoughts of God leaves a void, a chasm that Satan delights to fill. Seeking worship, coveting supremacy, he is skillfully sculpting a society that will blindly receive his masterpiece when the “mystery of iniquity” reaches its height (or, more precisely, its depth). Like the gradual heating of the water in the “frog in the boiling water” story, society is quietly being changed and mankind is often completely unaware of the alteration. To accomplish this, certain things had to be changed and other ideas disseminated: the abolishing of the concept of absolute truth and moral standards of right and wrong, the acceptance of almost any deviant practice under the guise of tolerance, the supremacy of scientism, and, especially, the idea that all religious beliefs and systems are equal and that, therefore, Christianity was no different or better. In fact, with its demands for a new birth, a conversion to God, Christianity is now considered worse than all the other broad-minded, “accepting-of-all” religions in the world.
In contrast to all this absurdity, the Christian life is one of dependence on God. Our path was defined by our blessed Lord Who, in His spotless pathway here, prayed “Preserve Me, O God: for in Thee do I put My trust” (Psa 16:1). Prayer itself is to be an implicit acknowledgment of our constant need for God’s presence, guidance, and blessing. Far from living lives independent of God, we have the reminder of the Lord Jesus that: “Without Me ye can do nothing.” The true believer is distinguished from the worldling by, among other things, his “toward God” outlook and attitude (Luke 12:21). He looks to God, acknowledges God, depends on God, and honors God.
It is said that on his deathbed, John Wesley raised himself up and quoted Psalm 46:7, “The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah,” and then added, “And best of all, God is with us.” Knowing, enjoying, and bowing to God – that is where our chief joy and safety lie. This is not what the old secularist Marx described as an “opiate”; this is an opposite – the opposite of Godless living, the opposite of aimless existence, the opposite of a secular society. And, truly, it is the best thing of all that “God is with us.”