Sometimes you have to learn the hard way…

June 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

A good friend of mine is an atheist. She wasn’t always an atheist; she, like many non-believers, simply grew incredulous as she grew older, largely due to the actions of the believers around her. I know how she feels- I, too, went through a period in my life when belief in God seemed foolish. I can attribute my own unbelief to many factors, including a smug sense of superiority I found myself exuding after getting an education. But more than anything, like my friend, the biggest cause of my unbelief came in the form of “church people.” It is a sad truth that for many Christians, the biggest obstacle to faith is… other Christians. I have been hurt, cheated, stolen from, and back-stabbed more by fellow Christians than by anyone else. I have been taken to court three times- each time by members of my church (granted, this was when I attended an evangelical protestant church before my conversion.) So I know where my friend is coming from.

I care about this friend and I want her to return to Christ. But I care about her enough that I leave her alone to figure things out for herself. All too often, my desire is to engage her in discussion about religion, when all she wants to do is talk about art. I feel the need to constantly weave apologetics into our conversations, throwing out those little hints and barbs which I myself am all too familiar with, having been around people, in my ‘atheist’ days, who did the same thing. When I was struggling with unbelief, what peeved me off the most was those Christians who feel the need to constantly try to convert the unbeliever. The worst, obviously, are the street-corner bible-thumpers, proclaiming a fiery doom to all heathens who don’t change their evil ways and repent, presumably to go act as foolishly as they. Better, but still annoying, were the well-meaning Christian friend who always managed to change the subject to religion- a religion I had already made quite clear I had no interest in and didn’t want to hear about. No, none of these people brought me back to Christ. The ones who brought me back to Christ were the true friends who let me alone and were just… friends. Who showed their faith through their actions, and never once tried to convert me with words.

I know that some people, like myself, just have to learn the hard way. I have been many things in my life. I have been an addict, a prisoner, homeless, helpless. By suffering these things I learned the love of Christ better than I ever did in times of plenty. It is only when I was at my lowest that I was able to put pride aside and admit that I needed help, a help which no man could provide. When all one has is the love of God to turn to, one learns quickly how powerful that love is. That is why I let my friend believe (or disbelieve) whatever she wants, and remain a friend regardless. I know that eventually, the trials and tribulations of life will cause her to seek a remedy, and I also know that no earthly remedy will ever suffice. She is a very smart girl, and I know that eventually she will, through the use of logic and reason, not through my or any other Christian’s intervention, turn back to Christ. We should all remember that we are called to be a living example of the Gospel, not clanging cymbals throwing Bibles at people. Once we start living the Gospel rather than just speaking it, our example will convert the world.

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