Religions often develop congregations with many very nice people. There are often those who are merely able to put on a false face in social settings. Nevertheless, either way, they are what they are because they have the sense of being accountable to some moral code of conduct — even the atheists and the agnostics answer to some such code of conduct.
Now, as an aside, I know there are plenty of nice people throughout the world. (I know all the friends I have had in my life are significantly better than myself. However, “I once was lost but now I am found.” Yet, that is “neither here nor there.”) Many have found a comfort zone where they live in peace with themselves and their neighbors. However the problem arises that the best a human being can do is to build self-righteousness, a too often prideful endeavor. Moreover, this doesn’t buy an audience with the Lord. Here is an example from the soliloquy recorded inMatthew 19:16–24 — “If you want to enter life, keep the commandments…” “…“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Many might disagree with my saying atheism and agnosticism are religions. You might not agree that a person’s mindset is the exact equivalent of religion. However, please cut me a little slack. Many religions, such as Christianity, believe that they are answerable to a higher power. An atheist is only answerable to his or her own conscience as they are, apparently, their own god.
Most “adherents” to any religion often make exceptions for themselves for their own “bad” thoughts and actions. That is especially true of agnostics and atheists, but does not exclude anyone else, and that is the basis for secularism, for moral relativism, for behavioral “freedom” leading to excesses. When you get right down to the real nitty gritty, people excuse all kinds of behavior based on relativism — even drug addiction. At the very least they struggle with knowing there is not much they can do about it — though many do try.
(This is a good place to remind folks that my understanding of “sin” is anything that causes harm to oneself or to others. Sinful equals harmful. That is why God hates sin. We are hurtful to ourselves and to others.
Proverbs 6:16–19 ESV “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”) https://www.openbible.info/topics/god_hates_sin
“Relativism has been, in its various guises, both one of the most popular and most reviled philosophical doctrines of our time. Defenders see it as a harbinger of tolerance and the only ethical and epistemic [rational] stance worthy of the open-minded and tolerant. Detractors dismiss it for its alleged incoherence and uncritical intellectual permissiveness.” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) — https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/relativism/
God in the Bible makes no exceptions for any sin. One sin is not greater than another. To boot, it is written in the Bible, the disapproval, “…There is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23) One sinner is not worse than another. The worst part is that sin, in any form or to any degree, separates us from God. We cannot even see Him, because of the veil of our sinfulness. (However, many have gone behind that veil and come out as witnesses for everyone. Such principles, to which they attest as evidentiary, have subsequently written them down, creating the Bible.)
Now, a person’s belief in God (or any god for that matter) is most always a vague hope, faith is a holding on by one’s fingertips, and God is not allowed or is not able to take any action on a person’s behalf. Then, in that case, it seems God is far, far away. People might just let go of their faith, becoming cynical. In any event, the effect is the same: A person’s mindset does not allow even the possibility that God exists. They may emphasize the positive, but have a tendency to become focussed only on the world’s events and people’s nastiness. So, they ask, “Where is God?” Confusing, unsettling, depressing, distressing, numbing … So, they end up bouncing from one “answer” to another succumbing to a small world they can understand.
Jesus illustrated this principle in the “Parable of the Sower,” especially in this passage in Matthew 13: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants…”
What guarantee does one have that the God of the Bible created everything, created people to enjoy everything, has nothing but love for people, and has intended a wonderful destiny for us all? What assurance do we have that God even exists?!? On the other hand, what guarantee does one have from their own self-imposed religions? Where are the fruits of those various mindsets?
The proof is in the pudding. Jesus said we must be born again by the Spirit of God hovering over us. He adds this guarantee: “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” Jesus assures His followers by giving many proofs in their lives. Personally, along with many others (and we are no different than anyone else), Patty and I have seen this promise fulfilled in our own lives. How? Because we have chosen to follow Him. We stumble. We fall. We get sidetracked. We even get lost on an unmarked road, perhaps a simple distraction. But every day we talk to Jesus and listen for His voice, because we have learned through experience that His ways are the best ways. His thoughts are much higher than ours. His love is real and very much appreciated. He loves us, and He waits for you to turn to Him so He can love you, too. Individuals can actually have conversations with God! The only stumbling block, which is universally true in all conversations and relationships, is that we do not spend enough time and effort LISTENING!
It is no imposition. Believe me. No imposition at all.