Recently this site came up in my news feeds, reposted/shared/liked by someone I care about. I thought about dismissing it, but thought better of that. I comment here because it seems important to open dialog and discussions about atheism and barriers to Christianity.
I rarely comment or posts pertaining to items of religion or politics. Not because I’m not supportive or religious, but because I feel it’s more important to bring God to places he does not exist. There is little need to validate believers of God. It is much more important to bring light to the darkness. Too often as Christians we attempt to find God and spread his news in the easy places; churches, bible studies, Christian schools, etc. We dismiss none believers, atheists. We dismiss those not showing up in the easy places as lost causes. It makes our service easier right? We have Christian discussions with other Christians with similar service missions, because those are easy discussions to have. We find people who will refrain our Alleluia and Amen because it makes us feel affirmed. We are all at unique places in our Christian development. No one more so than an atheist. Everyone has their ups and downs with spirituality and religion. Anyone who would claim otherwise is deluding themselves, including me, so I make no judgement here. Every one of us has questioned God and felt empty.
I question God’s plan as much as anyone. I question God’s commitment all the time and he doesn’t seem to mind. I kinda think God likes me human, if he wanted another God he’d have made one. I say this because sometimes as Christians we become part of the problem, not the solution. I recently had a discussion with a religious leader. Upon reflection I came away believing in some respects he was part of this problem.
Another part of the problem that separates Christians at various levels of spiritual development is judgement. Believers strong in their faith can build barriers, making developing Christians feel judged. Faithful followers of God can give off vibes of superiority often denying their own spiritual ignorance and biases; such as atheism. They believe that because they know scripture, they know all there is to know about God. They sometimes lay solitary claim to God as “their God.” There is more to Christianity than quoting scripture and having all the answers. I know this because I’ve been that know-it-all Christian. It is an easy trap to fall into because our relationship with God is uniquely solitary. It is a slippery slope.
Another barrier I’ve personally experienced is judgement. We have all been on both ends of that. I have been in places within my own Christian development where I have been the judge. In this, I believe I became so strong in my Christian beliefs, that I no longer reflected the characteristics of a Christian. Sitting in judgement on others is something all Christians must keep in check. Patients with those still in the infancy of their Christianity is called upon.
I am not an atheist, but if I am honest, I have felt moments of atheism. I’ve felt empty. I have wondered the same wonders reflected in this post. It’s a question we ask when bad things happen to good people. “Where is God? Why doesn’t he answer? Does God exist?” It’s a question we ask at all stages of our Christian development. So when this post came up in my news feeds, it qualified as something I would comment on; so here goes.
As stated, I too am a work in progress. I too am still developing on a spiritual and Christian level. I am commenting here because it is an opportunity to bring light to the darkness. To bring God to places where he has been cast out. Atheism is a dirty word in Christianity. That is a whole nother conversation, for another post; stay posted. To be clear though, I am not seeking validation for my beliefs in this blog. My spiritual journey and relationship with God is an intimate and personal one, I’m not looking to spill that relationship here on social media. That is just not my way. I do try though, to bring a light to dark places. So in the spirit of lighting dark places, when reflecting upon the post below, I have two thoughts to offer.
My first response to this is; God’s end plan is set and does not change. It is not the “day to day” things we pray about, he can change those things. It is his end plan he won’t compromise. He will not answer our prayers if they interfere with the grander plan for our lives. He won’t compromise his promise to us of eternal life. He won’t compromise our souls. That plan is grander than we can ever imagine. That plan never changes.
As in the post, sometimes we feel God doesn’t hear us. We think he has turned his back on us. The opposite is true. God would never turn his back on us. Sometimes prayers are not answered because they would not support his end game, not because he doesn’t hear us. Sometimes our prayers are not in our own best interests. He must win many battles on our behalf, in order to win his spiritual war for our souls. There are many losses along the way. He grieves these losses with us. He too weeps.
Second thing, everything we have been taught about prayer, in making requests, is false. Prayer is not asking for anything. How presumptuous in a relationship to feel we should get every little thing we ask for. Prayer is an internal conversation that supports our relationship with God and the holy trinity. Prayer is giving thanks for what God has already given us. Prayer is friendship and fellowship with God. If we are thankful and appreciate our blessings, then blessings become more abundant. Friendship is reciprocal. We give and take. He gives and takes. No friend, not even God, would give all the time and never receive. No healthy friendship would allow themselves to be taken advantage of in this way. It is in giving that we receive. As my son would put it, if we are selfish little bastards, He calls us out on that because He loves us. We do this in healthy relationships.
So my response to this post is pretty clear. However, my response to the people who shared and liked this post is, “I am a Christian and I too have asked God similar questions. I too have been where you are. All Christians have felt neglected by God because he refuses to compromise his plan for us. He will not negotiate what is quick and easy in exchange for what he promises us long term. No one is sorrier than God about the cost of eternal life. No one knows the pain of watching their child suffer and die more than he does. The fact that you shared this post at all proves to me, God is chasing your heart. If you consider yourself an atheist, then you have an absence of faith. An empty place in your heart waiting to be filled. God has great plans for you. Evolve in him. Let him change your heart. Let him make you a better Dad, husband, boyfriend and man.”
“However, if we disagree about religion and spirituality, if you disagree with my thoughts here, I am still your friend wishing you nothing but the best God has planned for your life. I still smile when I think of you. I believe God is not finished with you. You are still EVOLVING. Like me you are a work in progress. I pray relentlessly for the day you will find a friend in God. Until then, I want you to know, I will come into your dark place to share my light.”