Dear Atheist and/or Agnostic,
I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately and wanted to share what’s on my mind because I think it has a significant impact on your future.
For people who either don’t believe in God or don’t know if He exists you sure talk about Him a lot! Daily I can read comments on Facebook from my non-believing friends about how silly it is for me to believe in something I cannot see and how lame I am for not believing science, which obviously is the truth.
I’ve thought long and hard on this one because you have a point. But did you realize that to believe in evolution you actually have to believe in something that has a one to 10 to the 60th power chance of actually happening? That’s one chance in 10 followed by 60 zeros! My friends, to believe that you must have more faith in your science than I have in my God!
Here’s the other thing about science that you need to think about: much of what passes as scientific truth actually is scientific theory. In order for something to become scientific truth it must pass muster under the old scientific theory test. You remember, that thing we all learned in middle school about having to have a hypothesis, test it, have it come out right, and then be able to repeat it? This is where much of your science fails, especially your evolutionary theories. Not only can you not prove your test, you can’t repeat it. Yet, you believe if you say it enough times it will become truth. If you were truly scientific about it you would admit the folly in such an approach.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-science. In fact, I marvel at it. However, while you may believe science proves there is no God, I believe science is man’s way to explain what God has done. That is why there is so much we don’t understand yet because God is so incredible. Take life on our planet for example. The odds are astronomical that everything would line up just right (distance from sun, rotation speed of planet, water, etc…) to make it work! While scientist scratch their heads trying to figure it out, those of us in the faith understand God can do all things, including the astronomically impossible.
One last thought on science. I recently heard a well-known celebrity scientist talk about how cool it is that man is made up of “star dust” proving his point that we evolved. Apparently that scientist has not read Genesis where God takes dirt from the earth – the same earth He created from nothingness along with the other planets, stars, galaxies and universes – and made man. I agree with that scientist that we are made of “star dust” but the difference is I believe God tells us how He did it in the first chapter of His book. Now that’s not rocket science!
The other hot button issue I see my friends post is the question that haunts non-believers as much as believers: If your God is a loving God how can He send people to hell? That actually is a great question and one that has a hard answer most don’t want to hear.
In our faith God tell us that He will give us our hearts desire, which is really cool. But He also gives us free will because our God wants us to choose to be in relationship with Him instead of that relationship being forced. Many hear God’s call and choose Him and a relationship with Him becomes their heart’s desire. But for others their heart’s desire is to have nothing to do with God for a variety of reasons. And God allows that as well.
So the question is this: Does God send people to hell or do people choose hell over having a relationship with God? This is more than semantics because it has a significant impact on whether our God is a loving God or not! Let me see if I can illustrate it a different way.
I don’t like going to the dentist. It’s not really a phobia, but I am really uncomfortable with them picking at my teeth and gums with those sharp metal picks. I also don’t have a super large mouth (which I know you find hard to believe as you read my blogs!) so when they bend those negative X-Ray boards and “fit” them in my teeth it is really uncomfortable. Lastly, I have a really soft gag reflex so when they push those things back into my molars it makes me gag. So, I’m no fan and I’m hard headed so I tend not to go to the dentist unless I really have to…which is once a decade or so.
Based on this, if I get a cavity or an exposed root, or break a tooth, or have gingivitis is that the dentist’s fault? Based on the theory that God sends people to hell, yes it is, it is the dentist’s fault for not taking care of my teeth even though I won’t have a relationship with that dentist! I think you can see how silly that train of thought is. If I choose not to go to the dentist I will suffer whatever consequences I get based on that choice. I made the decision so I am responsible. Well guess what, if you choose not to be in relationship with the creator of the Universe who absolutely loves you and wants to be in relationship with you, you too will suffer whatever those consequences are based on your choice. In this case, it’s eternity in hell, which sucks for you and is why so many of us Christians try to “push our religion down your throats.” God wants none to perish and we want none to parish so we try to convince you to change your heart’s desire from rejecting God to embracing His love, His gifts, His blessings, and His salvation.
The retort I usually get from you when I tell you this is, “So God forces us to love Him or we choose hell! That’s not a choice.” Well, yes it is. Like all relationships you have to choose to love the other person or be separated from that person. We all make that choice every day in our marriages, our intimate relationships, our family, our friendships, and even in our workplaces. In fact even our American Constitution says we don’t have to associate with people we don’t want to be around! It’s a right! So no, God’s not sending you to hell, it’s quite the opposite. He’s asking you to come home but it’s your choice.
One of you in particular has told me that you don’t believe in sin but you will go as far as admitting there is right and wrong albeit not to the degree Christians would go, but rather in more broad terms allowing for a moral relativism in most areas. My dad was one of those guys, too, so here is what I shared with him.
I told my dad that the reason he didn’t like the idea of sin is because he didn’t like the boundaries on his behavior that God established as being holy in His eyes. In other words, God tells us that all things are permissible but not all things are good. If you want to do things God’s way you follow his precepts of right and wrong or holy and sinful. If you don’t want to do things God’s way you claim either that those things of God are ancient custom that are not applicable today; are aspirations we should try to meet but know we can never meet; or they are not really sins because there is no such thing as sin in that context.
Here’s the reality, at least the reality with my father. He didn’t accept sin as sin because he was very good at sinning! My father would not accept a greater authority than himself so he was never accountable for his actions to anyone but himself (and law enforcement when he crossed those lines!). And that, my dear atheist and agnostic friends, is where a lot of you stand. You don’t want to be judged for your actions and you are simply unwilling to adjust your lifestyles to meet what you consider the unrealistic or unenviable standards of God. Let me give some examples.
Here’s a list of things just off the top of my head that in today’s society are okay but according to scripture are bad for us and we shouldn’t be doing:
- Living together before marriage
- Premarital Sex
- Acting on Homosexual Inclinations
- Transgender/Cross Dressing
- Swearing/Course Language
- Hating other people
- Adultery (still bad but not that bad)
- Abortion as Birth Control
- Lust (okay to look but don’t touch!)
- Narcissism (selfishness)
- Drinking (to drunkenness)
There’s more but you get the idea. Today, none of this kind of stuff really even makes us think twice, but for God they are still a problem, which is why many of you don’t want to follow God – you’d have to agree to a supernatural transformation through the Holy Spirit not to do these things anymore! And honestly, that just wouldn’t be any fun! Or in other words, “God, you’re not the boss of me!”
But here’s where you have it wrong about sin because you don’t know our God. Recognizing your sin is not about punishing you or even trying to make you feel guilty! It’s about you recognizing that you fall short of God’s holiness and need help bridging that gap…and that help is Jesus!
See, if you really understood our faith you’d understand that our scripture tells us that we are not condemned or considered guilty or an enemy or God or any of that stuff because Jesus took the punishment that we deserved. I know that may not make sense to you; “why would God punish His Son for things I did?” There’s a two-part answer: First, because God is just (not fair) and justice must be served – someone had to pay the price for us rebelling against God and not living as He told us to. Second, God loves us so much that He was willing to allow Jesus to accept the punishment for EVERYONE all at once so sin would no longer be an issue. Jesus died for the sins of the world not just the sins of Christians so that EVERYONE could come to God and be seen as holy and righteous by simply accepting the gift of salvation Jesus offers.
You’re not in trouble, God’s not mad at you. He doesn’t hate you. He wants to give you a gift that you in your own power cannot get. He’s not forcing you into relationship, but you have to be a complete knucklehead to turn down the gift of eternal life with the creator of the universe because you are so hard-headed and cold-hearted that you’d rather spend eternity without Him and His love for you than with Him by simply accepting the fact that you were made in His image and deep in your heart and soul you hear His call for you to come home.
My dad was just like you. There was no way he was going to believe any of this nonsense. But I told him this one night a couple of years before he died. “Dad, if you’re right and I’m wrong about God then I’ve just been a fool and wasted my life living for something that doesn’t exist. But if I’m right and you’re wrong, you’re screwed.”
To be honest, I can live with being a fool for Jesus in this life. If it’s not true, then I die and that’s it. I’ve been a nice guy, helped some people along the way, and really no harm was done because this is all there is.
But can you live if the opposite is true? Do you really believe your life on this earth has absolutely no meaning? How can I say that? Tell me the name of your great-great-great-great grandfather and what impact he made on the world. See – if there’s nothing beyond this life you, too, will be forgotten over time having made no impact.
If I am right, however, you’re screwed, too, just like my dad. You are choosing as your heart’s desire to not be with God and it grieves Him. Further, you are choosing that not just for today but for eternity, and instead you are choosing to be with those who choose against God, and they include Satan, his fallen angel demons, evil people (the Hitlers of the world), and others like you – perhaps decent enough people according to worldly standards, but just too smart, intellectual, defiant, aloof, or even scared or guilty to accept that there is a God who is bigger than you and all the ramifications of such an admission.
So I pray for you and I do so kind of selfishly. I like you guys and I want to spend eternity in friendship with you. I don’t want us to be separated because you made a bad decision when you had every opportunity to make the right decision. So I pray that you will soften your hearts, clear your heads, and allow the Holy Spirit to show you the truth that you are too blind to see at the moment.
When that time comes I will be here ready to walk with you and show you all God has for you. Until then I’ll keep smiling at your Facebook insults and provocations because I am probably more comfortable in my truth than you are in yours.