Wednesday, March 11th, 2015
Outsiders (Part 6)
Atheists and Agnostics
He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself,
And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself.
Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
Proverbs 9:7-9 (NKJV)
I have friends and family who are atheists and agnostics. I search for good channels of communication. If I push the Lord, they're uncomfortable. If I push the world, I'm uncomfortable. So I strive for common ground, like Jesus did with the woman at the well: the right combination of sensitivity and boldness.*
But before I make the effort, I ask God for discernment. Because non-believers can fall in one of two categories: 1) scornful scoffers, and 2) curious intellectuals.
'Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come' (2 Peter 3:3), 'Whose minds the god of this age has blinded' (2 Corinthians 4:4). 'A scoffer does not love one who corrects him' (Proverbs 15:12). Because 'He is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words' (1 Timothy 6:4). Your best reaction? Silence. 'Do not throw your pearls before swine' (Matthew 7:6).
On the other hand, consider two atheists-turned-Christians: 'When I was an atheist, I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable' (C.S. Lewis). 'I became a Christian because the evidence was so compelling that Jesus really is the one-and-only Son of God, Who proved His divinity by rising from the dead. That meant following Him was the most rational and logical step I could possibly take' (Lee Strobel).
Actors, models and talent for Christ: If you happen upon a curious non-believer, consider him cool, even cold... but in a good way. In His Letter to the Lukewarm Church in Laodicea, Jesus said: 'I wish that you were cold or hot' (Revelation 3:15).** In other words, atheists and agnostics are honest about their lack of faith. Honesty is a great place to start any relationship.
Even more, don't write off the effect of your witness on every currently godless person. C.S. Lewis put it this way: 'You must picture me alone... night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him Whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England' (Lewis' book, Surprised By Joy).
To Be Continued...
* The Woman At The Well: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john+4%3A1-45&version=NKJV
** Letter to the Lukewarm Church: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Revelation+3%3A14-22&version=NKJV
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Outsiders series.