Sunday, November 29, 2009

Why I Like Atheists

Part one in this series ...

Do you ever pray about the types of people God would like you to reach for Him?

I do.

And recently, I have been really amazed at the love He has put in my heart for one particular group of people: atheists.

I'm a C.S. Lewis fan, through and through. One of my favorite books by Lewis is "Surprised by Joy," an autobiography that outlines the life circumstances that led Lewis to atheism and how and why his heart changed -- not only to embrace the concept that God exists but also to accept Jesus as his friend and savior.

If you've ever read this book, you'll agree that when you talk to people of other faiths -- or those who don't believe in anything at all -- they all have very valid reasons for their points of view. Like Lewis, life circumstances or the way in which they have been treated by others sets them up for a lifetime of struggle with believing in Jesus's Divinity and what He did.

This is especially true of many atheists I've met on Twitter in the past two to three weeks.

I've been reflecting about reasons I like atheists. Truly, I like them. I thought it might be helpful for other Christians at "Priscilla's & Aquila's Place" to gain some understanding and perspective on atheists they may encounter.

So to start, here are some things that spark my interest, fascination and general admiration of the atheist mindset:

1. They are ruled by logic. They are quick to point out that logically, the Bible doesn't have a lot of merit. They dissect each and every argument for God's existence with the precision of a surgeon's knife. My 20-year career has been in journalism. As a journalist, I have a strong appreciation for someone who painstakingly examines a concept or topic from all angles.

2. They easily figure out who is genuine.
If you have an ounce of hypocrisy in your soul, don't wrestle with an atheist. I would be lying if I said I'm not hypocritical on some issues. The atheists I've met have quickly pointed out these areas in my arguments to them. They've actually done me a huge favor by doing so, because on some levels, I wasn't even aware of the depth of my hypocrisy. I was able to confess those areas to God and apologize to the atheists in question. A wonderful gift, if you're willing to allow your character to be examined under a spotlight.

3. They are extremely (extremely!) intelligent. Many atheists I've met are either involved in the sciences or engineering fields ... or they are students who brighten at the prospect of a match of wits. They love to investigate the whys and the hows. Cleverness is a universal trait among them.

4. They're funny. Their sense of humor is highly developed. They trade barbs with each other and, once they accept you as a worthy "adversary," they are friendly with sharing their jokes with you. I also find that those atheists who are genuinely nice people censor themselves when talking to a Christian they respect. This level of courteousness is touching to me. Of course, there is another "category" of atheist not as "nice," but that's for the next blog entry. :-)

5. Those who are genuinely seeking answers in life have been hurt in the past. When we read the story about Jesus seeing the masses and having compassion on them, it's a great picture of how He feels about atheists. Those who have opened up to me are really very sweet and have extremely good reasons for their lack of faith. Usually, those reasons are based in either traumatic or horribly hurtful things that have been said or done to them. When I hear these stories, my heart just aches to the point where I cry for mercy over them. Jesus tells us, "To whom much is given, much is required." I understand this statement fully now, as I was given much in the way of unconditional love as a child. This fully made it easier for me to believe in an unconditionally-loving God. Many atheists have not had that advantage. They were not given much. They are deeply in need of His love.

So is there a group of people that God has tapped you to reach? Tune in tomorrow for the next part of my story in reaching atheists, when we'll chat about the different types of atheists: who I call "The Friendlies" and "The Enemies."

See you then!

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