Twice the Psalms tells us, in identical language, “ a fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God’” (Psalm 53:1; Psalm 14:1). I have loved these passages most of my life. They are a wonderful rebuke to atheists such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris.
But the last time I read them, I realized they may not simply be written to expose the foolishness of those who rule out the presence of God. Perhaps they’re written for those who do believe in God.
Notice that the Scriptures don’t say, “A fool has said in his head, there is no God.” God’s more concerned with what’s in the heart than with what’s in the head. Many of us believe, academically, that there is a sovereign God of the universe, that Jesus was the God-man come to save us from our sin and rise again the third day. We believe in our heads that Jesus is alive.
But in our day-to-day existence, our hearts are saying something completely different. For instance, I often get overwhelmed with the enormity of the things I have to do. Last week life piled up on me in a big way. It was Easter weekend, there were a few crises at church, I had friends suffering in the hospital, messages to prepare, book deadlines to sweat, and three children and a pregnant wife to care for.
If you ask my family, this pressure was leaking out all over the place. I was whining and fretting about what I had to do and the little time I had to do it.
Then I read Psalm 53:1 and Psalm 14:1. I realized that I was acting like the fool in these passages, because in my heart I was acting out the belief that God doesn’t exist. Of sure, I could recite passages and proofs and refute atheism with all kinds of passion.
But my heart was saying, “God’s not present. Jesus didn’t rise. Therefore I must be overwhelmed and anxious.” The truth is that if God is dead and Jesus didn’t rise again, I have every reason to be overwhelmed. Paul makes this case in 1 Corinthians 15:9. If the Resurrection isn’t true, then we are to be “pitied among all men.”
But, if God is real and if Jesus rose again, then to let our hearts get anxious is a foolish thing, as foolish as the anti-God insults hurled by men like Dawkins and Hitchens and Harris. Actually more foolish, because we know in our heads that Jesus is alive.
If this reality is really real, then we have no reason for despair. We have no reason to think we have to do all this stuff for Jesus on our own. We have reason for hope.
Because there is a God. He did send Jesus. Jesus did rise again. We do possess the Holy Spirit.
And anything else our hearts say, to quote the Psalms, is just plain foolish thinking.
Daniel Darling is an author, pastor, and public speaker. His latest book is Crash Course, Forming a Faith Foundation for Life. Visit him on Facebook by clicking here, follow on him on Twitter at twitter.com/dandarling, or check out his website: danieldarling.com.