Why I don’t begrudge atheists

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Before I begin this post, I think it’s important that I point out which definition of begrudge I’m talking about. When I say I don’t begrudge atheists, I’m talking about the “to look upon with disapproval” definition, not the “to give in or concede reluctantly” one.

Okay, as long as everyone knows where I’m coming from, I’ll tell you why I don’t begrudge them:

Because I can’t prove with absolute irrefutable evidence the existence of God anymore than they can disprove it.

That doesn’t mean that because I can’t prove that God exists I choose not to believe. That’s my point. It’s a choice. People who choose not to believe in a higher power are taking a leap of faith every bit as much as I am. I can argue why I choose to believe, an atheist can argue why he chooses not to. And round and round we go. It’s exhausting and it just serves to widen the ever-increasing gulf between the two sides.

I also believe it is a mistake for Christians to dismiss all atheists as morally bankrupt and evil. To do so would be to ignore what Jesus commanded us to do: To love your neighbor as yourself.

Blogger and full-time missionary Koffijah once made the observation:How we view people is half of how we love them. When we dismiss those who don’t believe as we do, we degrade them and run the risk of believing that we are somehow better than they are. That is very dangerous territory indeed.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” ~ John 3:16

John 3:16 is probably the most familiar verse in the bible. Recognized by by believers and non-believers alike. As Christians, we cling to the promise of this verse. So much so, that often we dismiss what immediately follows:

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” ~ John 3:17

Christians lose their argument the second they approach an atheist with the intent to convert them.

Rich Mullins once said:

“I remember how I once won an argument with a heathen friend of mine who — after I had whacked away his last scrap of defense, after I had successfully cut off every possible escape route that he could use, after I backed him into an inescapable corner and hit him with a great inarguable truth — blew me away by simply saying, “I do not want to be a Christian. I don’t want your Jesus Christ.” There was no argument left to be had or won. Faith is a matter of the will as much as it is of the intellect. I wanted to believe in Jesus. My friend wanted to believe in himself. In spite of how convincing my reason was, my reason was not compelling.”

Respect their right not to believe if you want them to respect your right to believe. I think we witness to the world by allowing others to see the light in ourselves, not pointing out the darkness in others. Besides, there’s plenty of darkness and doubt in all of us.

Rich continues:

“I am a Christian because I have seen the love of God lived out in the people who know Him. The Word has become flesh and I have encountered God in the people who have manifested (in many “unreasonable” ways) His Presence; a presence that is more than convincing, it is a Presence that is compelling. I am a Christian not because someone explained the nuts and bolts of Christianity to me, but because there were people who were willing to be the nuts and bolts, who through their explanation of it, held it together so that I could experience it and be compelled by it to obey. “If I be lifted up,” Jesus said, “I will draw all men unto me.”…

“Love one another, forgive one another, work as unto God, let the peace of Christ reign in your hearts. Make it your ambition to lead quiet lives. Obey. Greet one another with a holy kiss. No one will argue with that.”

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