Today is April Fool’s Day, which some “witty” Christians prefer to call National Atheist Day, for it is written in the Psalms, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God'”. (14:1; 53:1)

Sadly, the joke is on them. For one, atheism is no laughing matter. For another, these psalms are not about confessional atheists out there (like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, or Christopher Hitchens), rather, they are about functional atheists in here, in the hearts of God’s covenant people.

A functional atheist says with his lips, “There is a God” but says in his heart, “I don’t need him, want him, or love him.” A functional atheist has the appearance of godliness on the outside, but he denies its power on the inside. A functional atheist is a professing Christian who lives, moves, and exists without offering prayers to God.

We must guard our hearts against this subtle and subversive form of atheism, for it is far more dangerous than other forms. The first and best way to to do this is to worship the Lord God and to pray without ceasing. As it is written,

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9)

The antidote to functional atheism is not more religious data or mere God-consciousness, but personal engagement and active devotion to God, which requires your heart, mind, soul, and body.

Are you a functional atheist? If so, this is what you must do: You must rejoice. You must give thanks. You must pray. You must think about truth, goodness, and beauty. You must live, move, and exist according to the gospel.

If you do these things, the pesky atheist that terrorizes your heart and troubles your mind will die, and the personal-infinite God of peace will be with you.

The Lord is near-by not far away. As the psalmist says, “Call upon the Lord, for the Lord is your refuge.” (Psa. 14:4-5)