If someone desperately wanted to agree with me and had spent years finding ways to support my point of view, I would like to think I would be more forgiving when they ultimately could not come to the same conclusion. But it doesn’t work that way, does it? Not with politics. Not with relationships. And definitely not when it comes to god.

The moment I could not believe in god I became an opponent. It wasn’t a choice I made; but we can choose how we treat one another. I found holes in how Christianity defines god. And why not? God is too silent for us to know so much. There are a billion reasons to imagine that we don’t know god the way we think we do.

Initially I lost faith in man, not god. Isn’t god bigger than our interpretation of him? And so in order to search for god, I had to let go of all assumptions and start from scratch. I really thought I would find something. Anything. What I found is that god only exists in the words of men. I could say that some other form of god might exist out there, but those would also just be words. I don’t feel that it’s true.

I am helpless to that reality. But did I get here because I wanted to punish god? Did I search for him and come up empty-handed because I like to make fun of Christians? Do I feel the way I feel because I do not want to be accountable to a creator? Again and again Christians mock and accuse atheists of these things. Or pity us.

Am I really the enemy?

I came across this short post that a Christian wrote after someone accused them of not being Christ-like:

 

In a propagandist and disingenuous attempt to use their own sacred tools against them, all too often those Christians who are not merely mewling cows who will roll-over and expose their necks for the unbeliever’s intellectual slaughter but are rather direct and forceful in their denunciation of anti-Christian stupidity and bias, will encounter unbelievers who try to shame them by claiming that such polemical and verbally-harsh Christians are not being very “Christ-like” with their words and are not following the tenets of Christianity very well; however, what both these shame-attempting unbelievers forget, and what the Christians who are swayed by such pathetic and transparent shaming-tactics forget, is that the Jesus of the New Testament was also the Jesus who threw the money-changers out of the temple by force and violence, and the Jesus who was direct and verbally-biting with the religious leaders of his day, and the Jesus who told us not to throw pearls before swine, and the Jesus who told us to wipe the dust from our feet and be done with intransigent unbelievers, and so what being “Christ-like” actually entails is reading a certain situation and deciding which aspect of Jesus’ character to follow in that specific situation, for sometimes people just need a verbal smack-down and there is nothing “un-Christ-like” about that if the context is right and appropriate for it.

 

Oh, if only Christians were simply followers of a teacher named Jesus. When the church eventually decided to take an official stand that Jesus was literally the son of god, the whole world had to suffer the consequences. I’m not saying Jesus didn’t have a good plan for how believers should act, it’s just that somehow believers still manage to misunderstand his message. Only now they are promoting their misinterpretations as the actual word of god.

Jesus took action against hypocrisy among religious leaders in a way that inspired and changed minds among other believers. He showed kindness to those who were “lost” to demonstrate how his followers should act. After all, a shepherd will leave his flock for that one lost sheep, right? Jesus understood who the real enemy was and that Satan would work among those with faith so that they may produce less fruit for the kingdom of heaven.

 

There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, “Son, go and work today in the vineyard.”

I will not,” he answered, but later changed his mind and went.

Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, “I will, sir,” but he did not go.

Which of the two did what his father wanted?

 

Jesus said: Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.

It is clear that many Christians do not understand what that fruit is. If your enemy is Satan, how can you be angry with those who do not believe in him? Save your “verbal smack-downs” for those who claim to know god yet allow Satan to work through them. Consider the above parable; do you believe Jesus would have the father despise and ridicule the first son until he changed his mind and went to work in the vineyard? Surely we all recognize that the parable was directed at those who represent the second son. Because Jesus’ wrath was most often directed at those who claimed to believe in god.

Christians should ask themselves: which Christians represent the ones Jesus describes as withered and incapable of producing fruit? The indifferent, passionless Christian- sure. But maybe they are also the Christians who have forgotten who the real enemy is and are actively pushing unbelievers away from salvation.

But the blogger from earlier does have an answer to that:

 

My goal in writing is only to pursue and articulate truth. That may sound pretentious, but it is what is the case. Concerning pushing atheists away from belief…well, I could not care less so long as what I keep doing is articulating truth, for if atheists are pushed away from belief because they dislike the truth, then there is both nothing I can do for them and nothing that I would want to do for them. And note that my first goal MUST be to pursue truth, for if it is not, then I might sacrifice the truth for some other goal (such as bringing atheists closer to belief at the expense of the truth), which, of course, would be damaged to both the truth and my credibility as well. Finally, though I certain do attack atheism, I do so in large part because I find atheism to be absurd and irrational, and thus it deserves to be scorned in clear and direct and merciless language (much like atheists have done to religious believers over the last decade or so).

 

Much like atheists have done to religious believers over the last decade or so?  Much like SOME atheists have done. And since those are the atheists the blogger compares himself with, I wonder if their tactics have swayed him. That bit about finding atheism to be absurd and irrational makes me think maybe not. I understand. After all, when I was still a believer those weren’t the atheists that influenced me, either. But there were other atheists who did manage to influence me. What was the difference?

The difference is how you choose to present your truth to those who cannot understand it yet. You must first learn to speak their language. You can say learning that other language would compromise your truth. You can say, “I told them. It’s not my fault they don’t bother to learn English.” But do these sound like words Jesus would say? For a Christian who claims to “pursue and articulate truth” this particular Christian seems to be a very long way from being effective at it. Of course, he is not alone. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

My guess is that those words were not just meant for us atheists.

 

7 thoughts on “Maybe I’m Not the Enemy

  1. Points of agreement:
    – we can choose how we treat each other [and if one is a disciple of Christ, the choice is ‘made for us’ if you will.. we must love.. that’s a command]

    – none of us knows God – God is infinite. Each person will always limit God to the way they think, this doesn’t mean God is the way we think, only that we severely limit Him.

    – ultimately, no human being is nor should be the enemy of another. [our battles are spiritual with the knowledge that spirits do use human beings – doesn’t matter if the human doesn’t believe in spirits].

    – people will always have issues with Christians (hopefully, they’re (believers) learning as they grow… growth is a process – first the blade, then the ear, then the corn in the ear). What’s remarkable is the person who has an issue with Christ Jesus.

    my other points:
    – God IS. This means He’s a real being. All the created things: (universe – planets, stars, man, animals, plants, etc.) are all evidence of the work of His hands. One has to exist in order to create; one has to be real in order to be known.

    – I believe atheism to be incoherent because the atheist is forced to adopt an illogical stance that becomes impossible for him to defend, because he has no standard against which to measure anything – all his standards are based on his own opinion or what he says society tells him…but the reality he lives always show that such opinions are illogical as he’s always living beyond even his own metaphysical assumptions. (ex: ascribing meaning to randomness; thinking himself better than any other animal and being able to build a progressive society – not true according to Darwinian.)
    In simple terms – atheism is a secularized version of Christianity.

    True, taking the narrow road is not just for atheists.

    1. Thank you for the thoughtful reply. Obviously I have some different ideas about atheism, but that isn’t surprising. It’s funny that as an atheist I still find myself having conversations with Christians about ways to be a more effective Christian. Many assume it isn’t genuine. I guess old habits die hard.

      I never was able to wrap by brain around the Christian who drew a line in the sand and made enemies of those he was intending to save. Now as an atheist it is strange to be talked down to by some Christians and realize that while I was a believer I was probably responsible for “saving” more people than they ever will.

      1. The result of a disciplined walk with Christ is pure LOVE… i.e. the disciple fully embodies and exudes all that is LOVE: patience, kindness, joy, peace, gentleness, self-control etc.

        I think these are virtues not to be cast off if one does possess them in any degree… because in reality, what could one possibly replace these virtues with.

        [The reality is, there are some people who do not want to know God, they are very hostile towards Him and anyone who trusts in Him as their God.
        However, these people are not content with dismissing God from their lives… they must engage Christians in a manner that is full of disdain, insult and mockery.
        The targets are especially newer believers who they believe they can shame into renouncing their faith… but these are also the believers who are more apt to respond from the ‘flesh’]…
        This is not an excuse… the point is, both sides are guilty…

        However, as I mentioned above, it’s one thing for a man to be hateful – out of fear really – towards another… what I don’t understand is this hatred towards Jesus.

        1. I don’t understand hating Jesus, but I do know it is often used as a way to lash out at his followers. I can’t imagine it is ever effective, but emotions run wild and people act like fools.

          There are definitely those who simply have never wanted to know god. And yes, they can be angry. I often cringe when I see them making arguments that I know are silly to Christians; and they do about as much good for their cause as the angry Christians who think all sinners are the enemy. They, too, made me cringe when I was a believer.

          Some people think they know all the answers and feel they need no further knowledge. From man or god. But to be fair, they are usually just angry at each other…. which is more understandable. It’s too bad they lump the rest of us in by mistake.

          1. That’s a good point (and an honest one) you’ve made in your first sentence; however, I believe there’s got to be more to it than lashing out at His followers.

            I read a post by a devout atheist, who concluded his post with a profanity followed by The Lord’s Name. Since his audience is persons of the same persuasion, who was he trying to make angry.
            Was he hoping to solicit a response from a ‘fly-by’ Christian who happened upon the post.
            If he & his audience knows Jesus isn’t real, why the need to acknowledge Him & proceed even further to blaspheme His Name.

            I acknowledge that because most believers were told by their pastors that the great commission is about converting people, many use methods of: guilt, shame, and preaching sin, and hell to get people to change. These things never work… they may seem to…but they don’t.

            We’re called to disciple the nations (people) (and since disciples are those who are disciplined in their endeavors, this is an invitation to those who have counted the cost of what it takes to be committed to Jesus…knows the cost… and still decides, this is for me… this is what I want to do).
            In turn, the very life of a disciple becomes a witness unto Him – through the outward manifestation of the fruit of the spirit within that disciple.

            1. I wouldn’t overthink what some atheists mean when they appear hateful toward Jesus or god. It is more about their identity and approach than a secret belief.

              And for the record- when I was a Christian, that also did not feel like a choice. I am the type of person who if I believe in something I have to be sincere to it. Therefore my belief in god required me to take his message seriously and change my life. You are a believer who makes sense to me.

  2. the second point should read:

    – none of us knows God fully… as He’s infinite…

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