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.