Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter & the Atheist

Of all things to encounter during a celebration of the Resurrection, I found myself sitting adjacent to an atheist ~ the family's very own ~ & a beloved of my heart.

More often than not, discussions with said atheist are warm & cordial.  Topics concerning our differing worldviews are rarely selected when a choice can be had.  Yet sometimes they cannot be avoided.  They crop up or, as in the case of Easter, they rise up.   

Not all atheists are equal opportunity cynics where Jesus Christ is concerned.  Mine is typically gentle, smart, good-humored and ~ on many levels ~ a very noble sort.  Love & respect flows in both directions between us, so I can honestly say I've learned a great deal in our many & associated dialogues.   

Yet there are times when I am clearly on the receiving end of a smackdown in an attempt to silence, once & for all, the truth claims of Christianity.  Being a smackdown-enabled person myself, I am  never always rarely sometimes tempted to respond in kind.  With age I have concluded it to be a folly too egregious to entertain.  Remaining on the high ground takes far greater resolve and, I dare say, a far greater degree of love.  I'm not always up to the task, so my tongue bears witness to the myriad times it's been silenced with the biting of it. 

I know my atheist (notice the possessive & affectionate use of my) claims victory in yesterday's worldview scrimmage.  The reason I say that is because I recognize the tell-tale signs of smugness (probably because I've done my own share of gloating over the course of my life). 

Goats gloat.  

Today I must wonder what was actually won and what was actually lost in yesterday's exchange?   What was it I wanted from that discussion anyway?  To be right?  Or for that beloved of mine to know the great love & power of God for themselves?    

Perhaps, in ways I don't understand, the risen Lord was/is advancing His Kingdom, using some very (seemingly) dumb sheep in so doing.

Courage, you that prayerfully work and toil
for Christ with success of the very smallest kind,
it shall not be so always; better times are before you.
Your eyes cannot see the blissful future:
borrow the telescope of faith;
wipe the misty breath of your doubts
from the glass; look through it and
behold the coming glory."
~ Charles Spurgeon
  

      


I have often repented speaking, but never
of holding my tongue.
Xenocrates

Before the tongue can speak, it must have
lost the power to wound.
Peace Pilgrim


But even if you should suffer for what is right,
you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats;
do not be frightened.”
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.
Always be prepared to give an answer to
everyone who asks you to give the reason
for the hope that you have.
But do this with gentleness and respect,
keeping a clear conscience, so that those
who speak maliciously against your good behavior
in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
1 Peter 3:14-17
 
 

14 comments:

Cindy said...

I can very much relate to this post although more on the topic of homosexuality than atheism in my particular family. It's always nice when spiritual topics can be debated in a loving and respectful way. :)

Renee Regnier said...

I love your candor! Dealing with unbelieving family and friends can be the most difficult of situations. When to speak, when not to speak, how far do you push, etc. are all questions that believers struggle with. It is good to know that when we don't know what words to use, the Holy Spirit can give us the right words!

NanaNor's said...

Hi there, What a timely post-I love the humble strength you show in not responding in the same way. My own hubby of 35 yrs is the same and his entire family are Atheists. In fact, tomorrow we head to see them in Ca. to handle the estate things of his moms. I pray for grace to be silent and gentleness to love them right where they are. It will truly be grace if I am able to let all things go. It is so hard knowing that there is Life available and yet they all continue to refuse it.
Thank you for sharing.
Hugs, Noreen

Denise said...

Love this.

Skoots1moM said...

remembering 'the door is open to all' is hard when they are trying to not only slam it shut but argue that it is not even there.
prayers for you and yours...and that your grace puts more love in their heart to help soften it for His Voice to penetrate to their souls one day...bravo, my sister!

Sonja said...

Sheep and goats... I've been both for sure. Aren't we in awe of the God who loves both, and keeps loving and forgiving. I think your wisdom in learning how to keep silent at times and how to speak at other times, is probably doing some stretching and growing as you love this loved one and continue to pray, as I do with you.

xo

manthano said...

What a dilemma.
Had to think about it a while.

It would seem that all we could do
is in trust,

"...take ye no thought how or what
thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall
say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach
you in that same hour what ye ought
to say."

Then leave it in the Lord's hands.

Thanks for the post.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

God is advancing his kingdom in each one of us. Every choice plants a seed, and every seed bears fruit. We have the truth in our corner, and if we err let it be on the kingdom side.

Only Jesus, Sassy. Let us tether our expectation and our prayers at his hem.

peace~elaine

Just a little something from Judy said...

My only thought and comment today, as I read yet another of your heartfelt, candid, openly honest blog posts, is the powerful verse I was reminded of again this morning, and am finding it to more true the longer I live on this earth, and that is Isaiah 54: 8 and 9, that our God's ways are so much higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts. That stops me in my tracks and in my trying to control anything or anyone. It is all God's to control. I admire your grace and your kindness through some mighty difficult encounters.

I need to repeat this verse over and over since my control gene, and my wanting to win gene, take over so often. This was a profound post!

Cheryl Barker said...

Take comfort in knowing you are the fragrance of Christ where this loved one is concerned. Love can soften the hardest hearts, right?

Skoots1moM said...

Thx for coming by...u always make me smile

Peggy said...

We are just to share what we know and let God work on the hearts. Maybe God is working on the heart of your atheist in ways you don't know.

Debbie Petras said...

Keep on loving your atheist. And keep on praying. May the Holy Spirit grab him and not let go. And may the Lord bring godly people into his circle who he cannot ignore. May love open up his heart.

Love you and your attitude,
Debbie

Patrina's Pencil said...

I love your humble heart, Sassy.

I had a boss for 5 years...who claimed to be atheist. She was not bold and over powering, but honest about her beliefs. She never put me down...and she definitely knew I believed in God. She was accepting of others belief in God or other 'gods'... and tho she did not pray...(as she had no one to pray to)..she allowed for those who did pray..to engage in prayer..in her presence. Since she was in charge of the facility ...when prayer was an expected thing to do..such as before a special meal.. she just stated that she didn't pray ...and then asked someone who did pray to pray.

I liked her. She is a very loving and accepting kind of person. I still pray for her. But we never engaged in conversation about our respective beliefs. We just avoided it. After all..she was my boss. I often wonder if I missed a viable opportunity to plant a seed. And yet...sometimes, just our daily life is seed enough for harvest.

It's true..the power of the Holy Spirit is what convicts a man. It is nothing in and of ourselves that opens a carnal mind to the truth. We too were once blind and lacking understanding....but for God and His Holy Spirit.

Like Judy said...God's ways are so much higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts. The Holy Spirit knows our hearts...and theirs...if we stay humble in our walk behind the Savior...and let Him lead...we can't go wrong.

Love and humility are the key to planting seeds for eternity.

That's not to say that we still won't be judged or misjudged for our belief in God...but with Jesus in the front line...He is our shield. He is our strong tower. He is our example. And His example was to love God and to love people.

I will not stop praying for my former boss to know and love God. She's half-way there...meaning, she already loves people. Some people just love to hate other people. Those are the ones that test us...and His command to us - to love others and to pray for those that hate you...even enemies of Christ.

Just be real! The Holy Spirit knows just what to say and when to say it..all we have to do is be open and willing vessels. This is my prayer...to not get ahead of God.

hugs
patrina <")>><