My jobs provide me with a number of opportunities to hear or participate in conversations that I otherwise would not be apart of in a church setting. Today was one of those days.
As I was at a store today I overheard a conversations taking place between two atheist. Both women are very open that they don’t believe that Jesus was God and the conversation gave evidence to this. The gist of the conversation was that they couldn’t believe how Christian treated them when they talked about their disbelief in a God. They told stories of being called stupid and even told to leave houses for their beliefs. Admittedly they where just as judgmental and hateful towards Christians, but I think that a lot of these feelings simple came from the hurt they felt.
Now it would be easy to brush off this conversation as two atheist that just hate Christians, but I think there is a lot more to it than that. I think this reveals something about those of us that call ourselves Christians. It gives us a glimpse into the minds of those that we should be trying to love like Jesus’ does.
Before you close this tab and write me off as a lovey-dovey preacher and call me Joel let me assure you that I think that speaking the truth is very important. For example I don’t think that telling your friend that him sleeping with is girlfriend is O.K. I think that the Bible clearly tells us that we should speak the truth in love in order to let those that are far from God come close to Him through Jesus. However, I also think that there are good ways and bad ways of doing that.
If we refuse to engage with those around us and only talk to them when we rebuke them it seems only logical that in almost every case they would just walk away. However when we engage with those around us and simply befriend them God gives us times that we can speak truth into their lives. This doesn’t mean that they will turn to God and repent, but the chances of them hearing what we have to say is greater.
Understand that I am not saying that we should befriend non-Christians so that we can share Jesus with them. Befriend those around you because you know that’s what every Christians mission is. We do not become friends or refuse to become friends with people based on their beliefs or feelings toward us. We are to be hospitable and loving towards all people.
The sad reality is that many of us, myself included, have a hard time getting outside of our Christian bubbles. We are comfortable there and don’t like to be out with those that don’t agree with us. However we need to be like our Lord and be purposeful about being on mission. If we avoid situations that would deepen our friendships with those that don’t believe we are not living the Gospel out.
The Gospel, when lived out, is a messy situation. It brings saints to sinners. It brings change to situations that seemed changeless. It brings Jesus to us.
If your an atheist reading this know that not all Christians are judgmental and horrible. In fact if you can ever make it to Sojourn in Louisville, KY I think you should. Its a great church that loves the Bible and teaches it plainly but also welcomes those that are skeptical and hate the church. Check it out.
If your a Christian, like me, and find yourself not living out the Gospel as you should I would ask you to join me in doing so. I will pray for you and you can pray for me. Pray that the Holy Spirit continues to change our hearts and puts people that are far from Him into our paths to speak love and truth into their lives.
Lastly, if you think that all the sinner should all die and burn in hell for not listening to you when you warned them I would ask you if your arrogance has blinded you to the very mission you are going after so strongly. I’m glad that you want to tell people about Jesus and, probably, believe like your believe. However your approach is killing the Gospel and making people hate the church and you. I will pray for your as you pray for me.