Friday, December 4, 2009

So. Do We Debate the Atheist?

Conclusion of this week's series ...

Friday Night.
My living room.
Harrodsburg, Kentucky.

It's a crisp 30 degrees outside, and within the log walls of our lake house we are snug and at peace. Neil slumbers. Brent taps away on his laptop for his work tomorrow morning. And I scan through posts on Twitter, catching up on people's thoughts, dreams, hopes, questions, emotions, routines ... lives.

Within each Twitter of up to 140 characters, is a story -- whether it's a businessman trying to improve his image, a mom sharing her day's frustrations, a senior citizen offering a nugget of wisdom from life lessons ... or an atheist, making a case for the non-existence of a Diety.

As I reflect on the past three weeks, the people I've met and the lessons learned, I wonder ... are Christians correct when they say, "Abandon the atheist to his or her desires. They will not hear. They are hostile. Spend your time with those who are open to hearing. Why waste your time?"

And resoundingly, the answer in my heart and mind ... is NO.


Yes, there are many angry people out there who take offense at the premise of a loving God, much less a crazy middle-aged loud-mouthed woman in America who thinks nothing of pushing her views on them.

But there are too many others.

Listen -- I don't know their stories, their pasts, presents or futures. Neither do you. Do you think that if, given the chance, 1st century Christians would have walked straight into the murderous path of Saul? We can see that they were afraid of him after his conversion and change of identity to Paul. What if they had pushed him aside, wouldn't believe it was possible for him to embrace the message of the Living Christ?

At some point, we have to be willing to love the skeptics.

Today I was called a whore. I was labeled a liar. I was ridiculed. I was bemoaned as a nuisance.

And that was just before noon.

I tell you what, though ... there is a deep-seated love that burns, that did not originate with me but with Him.

Do you share His passion for those who refuse to know Him?

Don't forget that the Prodigal son was welcomed home with a party. That father waited day and night, looking for that child to return to him. What if the story had been different, in that the older brother had said to the dad, "Dad, I know this is killing you. I'm going to go find my brother and your son. I'm going to reason with him. I'm going to do everything I can to bring him back. Don't worry, Dad. I'll do what I can to help you get your boy home again."

What if?

We can all be the older brother.

And when the Prodigals kick and scream, throw tantrums and curse, threaten and cajole ... we can just love them back.

Eventually, a few of them are going to come to their senses. A few of them will say, "At least in my Father's house, I had food to eat."

And, if we're willing to be used to seek them out for Him, eventually those few will hightail it home, back into the arms of our Dad.

Are you willing to go after them, though?


  1. Thank you for your are a blessing.

  2. Hi Heidi - I've enjoyed reading this series for a number of reasons. As the child of athiests, one who lived as an agnostic for many years and now a baby Christian, I thought I would add my "take".

    As a baby Christian, I have to look straight ahead and walk a path that doesn't allow me any distractions, if you will. While I am as certain about my faith as about the air I breathe, I know if I engage in debate with someone who is determined to persuade me, ridicule me or in any way lead me astray, while it won't change my path, it could certainly cause me to detour.

    I look forward to the day I can "go after them". While I was reading this I kept recallig a verse that stayed with me that I read in Matthew (in The Message)many months ago. It took me a while to find it, but it's Matthew 10:5-8.

    "Don't begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don't try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously."

    So from the point of a "baby", for now I will love the atheist from a distance, include them in my prayers and allow "old" Christians, like yourself, ;-), to tackle the public enemy.

    Love ya! Shirl

  3. @christiansolder: Thank you for your encouragement, which means far more than you know.

    @Shirl: I am so glad you posted this. You never need to think that "baby" Christians are lesser than those of us who have done this longer ... in fact, your newfound innocence as newfound Daughter reminds me unabashedly that I cannot rely on myself, my past, my "spiritual resume" and only on God. You speak wisdom and reminded me sweetly of a dire warning, which I will pray about. Thank you so much. Love ya, too.

    And @the atheists who have posted comments that I have not published: I understand your need to present your side of the argument. I created this blog as a "refuge" for Christians who were engaged in debate in places like Twitter. So, because I have promised all along that this is a place where they can feel safe to read and engage each other without harassment, I respectfully have to decline posting your comments or arguments. That said, I'm happy to engage you one on one and am easily reachable via my listed email or Twitter. Thanks!