The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:18-21).
We've read that before, I'm sure. And we're appalled that those atheists deny God's existence when "His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived." We know that beyond mere arguments (apologetics), "what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them." And so, if we're compassionate people, we're concerned for them because the wrath of God is on them.
Funny thing, though. When I read this, there is something that stands out to me, and it's not about "them". Paul said that their failure to honor God had a specific symptom. They did not honor Him as God ... or give thanks to Him. The hallmark of this "atheist" is a lack of gratitude to God. And the reason it stands out to me is that I often lack that particular quality. I live in a wealthy country in a comfortable city in an air-conditioned house with a job that pays the bills. I have all my body parts and they work just fine. I eat meals every day -- perhaps too much at times. I have comforts and health and family and friends. I, too, am a witness to His eternal power and divine nature, and yet far too often I'm not nearly grateful enough. Indeed, far too often I'm not grateful at all. With all He has given me I still want more, nor am I thankful for what I have.
It's rotten. It puts me, too often, in the category of the practical atheist. I say I love God and I often do, but there are too many times that I live or feel or think or act as if He's not there, as if all I have I managed to acquire, as if He owes me, as if it's all about me. Well, then, that's something to work on, isn't it?
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