It’s tragic–very tragic. It happens to all of us. We simply don’t believe Christ–who He is, what He has done, or is doing–and we misdiagnose our unbelief as a mere trifle, a cold, or a passing headache. I see unbelief in my own heart and am often shocked by how easily I go there. Any time I spend giving in to my unbelief, I am, in effect, walking down the path to a land of make-believe. I often call it “la-la land”–a land of complete desolation! It is desolate because it isn’t a place of real life–it’s make-believe. It’s a cold, lonely, and harsh land. It’s not the place of God and His great glory. It is simply an imaginary place that seeks to void God from all of life. The reality, of course, is that we can’t do that to our Creator, for He is THE Ultimate Reality. (Psalm 139).
1. The path of cynicism – If I head down this path, I don’t have to really buy into things I don’t want to believe. I can just give a cynical glance to them, chuckle about them, and move on. If I am not convinced things will happen like God says they will, I can just wander down this path and gamble that maybe, just maybe they won’t really be as God says. Sometimes, cynicism brings comfort because things don’t often happen when we think they will happen, and we rush to the conclusion that they won’t ever happen and seek comfort from our misguided thoughts. Dangerous.
2. The path of skepticism – This path is very close to cynicism, but this one is often based purely on experience. I’m skeptical because it has never happened to me. Oh, I may have heard about it happening, but I personally have never experienced it, so at the very least, I’m skeptical. Since unbelief in Christ demands my own belief system (or any belief system other than God), skepticism becomes a source of comfort since I get to decide based on my own experience and my own choices. Also dangerous!
3. The path of suppression. Now, it does get very dangerous. I grab all troublesome thoughts and seek to diminish their impact in life. Some call this denial. I get subdued, quiet, tepid, and perhaps lifeless in reactions and responses. This is a miserable life of coiling into a fear-filled cocoon and denying truth by squelching the obvious work of God in life and minimizing any effect it may make.
4. The path of scoffing. Unbelief shows it truest colors when it derides, ridicules, or pokes fun of truth and people who are seeking truth. The disease at this point is bringing a certain blindness of thought, a narrowness of mind that will not see things any other way. There’s a certain insecurity about unbelief that will create its own world and just insist this new world is the world that everyone must live in. Ridiculing truth and those who believe it becomes a game to people who go down this path.
Any of these paths, and no doubt there are others, are often diagnosed merely as ways of handling life. In a survival mentality, one doesn’t deal with truth but just seeks to persevere. Sometimes life gets that way. But refusal of the truths of all that Christ is and all that He is doing and has done is refusing to live life – real life. Christ came that we might have life in an abundant way (John 10:10). Let’s check our lives and makes sure we have not misdiagnosed a very deadly disease.