Hope for an Atheist

Recently I was drawn into a debate among some old friends on social media. I know what you are thinking; Yay! Facebook debate! (Insert sarcastic tone) I’m not a fan either, and usually refrain from engaging in social media debates, arguments, rants, and whatever other unpleasantry you prefer. Feelings get hurt, people are misunderstood, and rarely does anyone change their opinion, while anger grows and persuasion fails. Personally, I’d rather just sit with someone over coffee and talk. On that day, I broke my rule.

The debate began as one friend stated an opinion on global warming, and before anyone could stop it, the discussion turned deeply theological. It quickly plummeted. The words of one of my friends, who I suppose considers himself an atheist, shook me.

His words were poignant, harsh, angry, and alarming. In the midst of a debate that really wasn’t about God, he chimed in saying something to the effect of, “I have no desire to believe in a God who’s only desire is for everyone to bow down to him. I’d rather burn in hell than serve a God who has allowed so much pain and suffering into the world.”

If you are a Christian, you can see my dilemma. It was hard to keep my mouth shut on such a flawed and confused statement. To be sure, there are probably people reading this that concur with his thoughts.

So what do we say to that? Definitely more should be addressed than could ever be mentioned here. However, I’d say that it is very limiting to say God’s “only” purpose is for humans to bow to Him. Yet, the Bible clearly states, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God” (Romans 14:11). The bowing will take place for all of us. I urge anyone reading this to give their life in submission to God today. Don’t wait until the bowing will not be one of joy and praise for the One who saves you, but a bowing of fear and regret. Trust in the grace of Jesus and find life in Him.

That being stated, there are many other things God desires. He desires for us to truly know Him in an intimate way, far beyond religion, doctrine, and arguments. He wants us to delight in Him, and to see how much He loves us. His grace makes that possible (Ephesians 2:8-9). He desires for our lives to be abundant and full (John 10:10). He desires for us to find forgiveness for our sin (Romans 6:23). He wants us to see we don’t have to be slaves to sin (Romans 6:6). He longs for us to love our neighbor and show His love to the world (Mark 12:31, Matthew 5:14). He desires for us to find Him as our delight, “Christ in us, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Jesus wants us to truly trust Him, and to converse with Him! These thoughts merely scratch the surface of just a few of his yearnings.

In regard to my friend, it seems he is acknowledging a God that he states doesn’t exist. That in itself makes me scratch my head! Moreover, to say that God has caused all the sin and suffering is just not the case.  All of the bad stuff happens because humans chose sin. Genesis 3 is clear that when sin entered the world, so did death, suffering, struggles, with even nature itself cursed. Thankfully, through the love and grace of God we have a savior, Jesus Christ, who desires to rescue us from our pit of destruction. Jesus, crucified, and now alive, came to save sinners. I pray God speaks to the heart of my friend, and you, as he did to my heart. Trusting in Jesus changes everything! God will defy our knowledge, and the gospel will break chains.

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart’” (1 Corinthians 1:18-19).

Ashley Mofield is the Senior Pastor at White House First Baptist Church, 2800 Highway 31 W in White House, (615) 672-3266.

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