They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. – Ephesians 4:18

Someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus, or the God of the Bible, will often times be quick to explain why he or she doesn’t believe. These are generally motivated by three main pretexts:

  • the experiences he or she has had with Christianity insulted their intelligence
  • the experiences they had with Christianity were negative, or even traumatic
  • or, they simply feel they don’t have a need for God in their life.

In my experience, the reason someone is an Atheist is because doubt, misunderstanding, and/or deception has taken over their heart and mind.

Somewhere along their journey in life, they were negatively influenced to the point of openly rejecting the notion of God. This influence may have come in the form of a family who didn’t quite ‘live their religion.’ I have met families where the parents are regular ‘churchgoers.’ They are at every activity, they volunteer at every church event, and they are almost always in attendance at their weekly Bible study. And yet, their children don’t want anything to do with God. Why is that?

As I have gotten to know many different families, I noticed many times that their home life wasn’t quite in agreement with their public life. While they seemed to be completing all of the functions of a faithful Christian, in private they were anything but. In interacting with their children, these parents were argumentative, judgmental, and oftentimes outright combative. Although God was spoken of in the home, He was not felt there at all. Phrases similar to ‘because I said so’ are often thrown around in these types of homes. There is little compassion, love, or understanding shown to the children; and thus, they grow up never understanding the joy and happiness that comes with feeling the light of Christ. In other words, they never see the benefit, nor the incentive, to living a Christ-like life.

Another common experience among Atheists is a traumatic event. This is absolutely a sensitive subject because there are so many cases where a church authority figure may have molested, or otherwise sexually abused someone when they were a child. Oftentimes, the abused will grow-up associating this experience with Christianity itself, instead of viewing it as an isolated incident. What’s also very unfortunate is sometimes other church authority figures, mostly motivated by their pride and vanity (i.e. their public image), will attempt to cover-up the event. These types of life-changing experiences can scar a person for the rest of their life. And, in the process, can cause the victim to harden their heart towards anything associated with that church, or its belief system.

Apart from abuse, there is another class of traumatic experience that can be caused by the death of a loved one. Perhaps someone lost a child to an illness, or a spouse to an unfortunate accident. In these incidents, a person might blame God for what they see as an ‘injustice’ towards them or the lost loved one.

The last type of Atheist is perhaps the toughest to work with, simply because he or she doesn’t have any ‘need’ to know God. This lack of ‘need’ can stem from monetary wealth, an abundance of secular education, and/or a self-professed “understanding” of Christianity in general. When Jesus mentioned that it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a ‘rich’ man to enter into the kingdom of heaven, he was referring to the this type of person (Matthew 19:24).

When a person does not want for anything, then he or she oftentimes does not feel a need to be saved from anything.

So, if we approach this person with the idea that they are ‘not saved,’ that they are in danger of eternal suffering, they will more often than not become defensive, or completely right us off as ridiculous. And, it isn’t their fault, this is simply the way people are.

For example, if I go up to a person who works out everyday at the gym, eats healthy, and generally takes care of their body, and I tell them that they are in danger of dying, they will most likely be skeptical of what I have to say. All they need to do is simply analyze their lifestyle and conclude that what I am saying appears unrealistic.

So, is it possible for the proud, and wealthy, and scholarly to be converted to Christ? Yes! But, it is very difficult for us to be able to have any kind of influence on them if they feel they don’t have any place in their life for God.

So, what can you do in this type of situation?

  • First and foremost, you must approach this type of person with humility in your own heart. Talking down to them, or challenging them in any way, will only bring conflict and contention.
  • Second, you must allow them to see how Christ is working in your own life.
  • And three, we must be patient and know that they’re on God’s time, not ours.

Usually during life changing events, people look outside of themselves to find answers. If we truly befriend someone, and they happen upon a time in their life that causes them to reflect upon their past decisions, then that is the moment when they are most teachable. Perhaps the ‘wealthy’ friend that we have is going through some sort of financial difficulty. Or, perhaps the ‘scholarly’ friend who says there is no God has just lost a loved one. Maybe the friend who says that he or she knows everything they need to know about Christianity is going through some sort of trying time in their life, and you can be there for them! You can not only teach them the benefits of knowing that God is available to us, no matter who we are, or what happens to us, but also show them what a Christ-centered life looks like through your example.

But, how do I teach someone the benefit of having God in their life if they won’t listen to me?

Honestly, there isn’t much you can say that will get them to listen to you. But, what we can do is show them the light of Christ in our hearts by how we live our lives. It is this Godly happiness, that can only be found in one who has been saved by grace. When things get tough, they may look to you for guidance on how to be happy again.

But, in order to aid in the conversion of anyone, we must first be truly converted ourselves. When we are converted, the light of Christ is able to shine through us; and, those who see His light “. . . will not remain in darkness” (John 12:46).



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29 Comments

  1. What kind of trauma or ignorance do all the billions of people who are not Christians suffer from? You know, all those people who live good, meaningful and fulfilling lives who happen to not be christians? Are they all wrong, misguided or damaged in your view?

    1. Great question! Words like ‘ignorance’ have a such a negative connotation to it that people seem to think it’s insulting. Ignorance, in this context, simply means they don’t understand the joy and happiness that comes with faith in God. To be able to be comfortable in knowing where we are going after we die is a HUGE relief. Now, I don’t profess to KNOW what happens when we die, I’ve never died before, BUT my faith allows me to be comfortable believing in a God that has provided an existence after this one. I was an Atheist, man. I get it. It’s so hard to wrap your brain around something as illogical as believing in something that is not tangible, or even really makes sense (especially when you have so many Christians who are TERRIBLE representatives of Christianity).

      The billions of people who aren’t Christians are not suffering because of a conscious decision to reject God, they are doing the best they can with the hand that they’ve been dealt! The kid in South America, whose mother is an alcoholic prostitute and whose father never existed in his life . . . that kid. He died of pneumonia at 6 years old due to neglect and extreme poverty. He never got a chance to live a “meaningful and fulfilling life,” but I choose to believe that he is with God now, no longer suffering. Those who DO know about God, and Jesus, and miracles, and DON’T want to hear anything about it, those who reject Christianity in general for whatever reason they choose to argue, they too live “meaningful and fulfilling” lives. BUT, it’s NOT as fulfilling as a life filled with God’s love in their heart. I know, because I’ve been on both sides. So, as an Atheist, was I “wrong, misguided, or damaged?” NO! I was simply living in a world that could offer me something better and I CHOSE not to take it.

      I’ve lived with families that survive off of $200/month, living in a cane shack with dirt floor . . . and they seemed happy. We’ve hung out on the weekends, gotten drunk, sang, danced, and had a great time. On the outside, they seem happy. To a person living in the “first world,” they would think that family is miserable. It’s all relative, my friend. The world is not black or white, wrong or right, misguided or well informed, damaged or whole . . . it’s all gray. I believe God interacts with us individually, each and every one of us. We don’t understand it, and we might not ever will (in this life, anyway). But, I have the faith to accept the things I don’t understand, the humility to trust my feelings that there is a God with a plan, and the experience to acknowledge that life is better with Jesus in my heart.

      1. “Now, I don’t profess to KNOW what happens when we die, I’ve never died before, BUT my faith allows me to be comfortable believing in a God that has provided an existence after this one.”

        I think this was an honest response. Is it then for you more about the Comfort that Faith imparts or the Knowing if your Faith is founded in reality and what can be demonstrated to be True?

      2. Belief is an interesting aspect of the human experience because we place it in all sorts of situations without even noticing it. Many people believe in science without understanding the mathematical formulas of a particular theory. We believe in another driver’s ability to not hit us when we go down the highway LOL. We do this unconsciously, most of the time.
        While I lived a large portion of my adult life as an Atheist, I now choose to consciously place my belief in God. As a reward, my belief is reinforced with faith. Faith is a gift from God. I will write about how faith works in later articles as it is an essential part of the Christian experience. I have found that many people, even Christians, see ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ as one and the same, they are not.
        Belief is that “leap of faith,” as we say somewhat erroneously. I believe in God. I believe that there is a plan for me in this life, and the next. And, because I believe, I am rewarded with faith by God. That faith gives me comfort in knowing I placed my belief in the right place. My former self would call that delusion, but that’s because my former self didn’t understand spiritual things. 🙂

      3. In British English, ‘ignorance’ is an active choice to avoid knowledge, learning and understanding. There are plenty of words in this rich language that are not critical – naïve, uneducated, newbie, beginner, novice. With such a choice there is no need to use a negative. Remember, babies cannot actively ignore knowledge, bigoted adults often will.

      4. Fair enough, but according to the dictionary it simply means “lack of knowledge or information”
        Don’t get caught up in the semantics, life is a lot simpler that way 🙂

      5. Which dictionary, an American one? This example of semantics causes upset and arguments, and is worth getting right in my view

  2. By the way, your article is on non Christians, but occasionally you switch to the term Atheists. Would you say that all non Christians are atheists?

    1. I can see where that conclusion can be drawn, I appreciate you asking for clarification 🙂
      I do not see all ‘non-Christians’ as Atheists. For this article, and the subsequent articles that I will be publishing later on, I will focus on the difference between Atheists and Christians, how to relate to Atheists as a Christian, and how to aid in their conversion to Christianity. Later on, I will write about the same things, but in relation to other religious beliefs.
      I also plan on writing articles about relating to other Christian denominations that are not necessarily “mainstream” Christianity (i.e. Jehovah’s Witness, Mormons, etc.).

      1. So, non Christians are not automatically considered atheists? Good. I didn’t see anything in your article that gave the possibility that People are not Christians because of either lack of evidence for, or evidence against. Is either of these a possible reason in your mind as well?

      2. Absolutely! I actually just published and article today that touches on that subject a little bit. I used to look for evidence that God exists, and if I couldn’t find it, then I logically concluded that God must therefore not exist! BUT, when I realized my paradigms where giving me a biased perception of said evidence, I had to essentially go back to the drawing board, per se.

  3. Speaking as an atheist, I do not fall into any of the three categories which you posted. I had no traumatic event which brought me to atheism. My atheism was not brought about by some perceived insult to my intelligence. It is certainly not the case that my atheism arose due to some notion that I do not need God. And I am hardly alone in this– I know plenty of other atheists who don’t fall into those categories.

    Perhaps ironically, my atheism came about as a result of my interest in Christian apologetics. While attempting to defend my faith, I realized that some of the things I believed were incorrect or indefensible. I attempted to replace those things with what I presumed would be more proper Christian philosophy, but I found none of it convincing. I wanted to believe, but found I could not due to a lack of cogent, sound argument.

    1. I’m right there with you! Christian apologetics is the worst because you can’t prove God! It’s like Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel with a crayon . . . It might turn out pretty decent to some, but it still doesn’t quite look right to the trained eye.

      Your experience is similar to mine in that you delved really deep in Christianity’s history, philosophy, etc that you saw all the bad with the good. BUT, the bad is soooooo bad, and the answers to the problems with Christianity are soooooo ridiculous that it makes you wonder how you fell for it in the first place. I’m assuming a little here, so please correct me if I’m wrong.

      That being said, I would put you, just like I put myself, in the “insult my intelligence” category, in the sense that all of Christianity’s answers to your questions just didn’t pass the smell test. Now, I know we hate to be labeled, or pigeon-holed, into something (especially us Westerners like myself who value individualism so much), BUT I would bet if I gave you a bunch of evidence in FAVOR of Christianity that SATISFIED your intelligence (or as you put it, “convincing”), you might give Christianity another look. Sadly, I don’t have the evidence you’re looking for LOL

      But, what I can tell you is there’s another way . . . a better way to reconcile the BS with the positive benefits of living a Christian life. Hopefully you’ll continue to read the articles I publish and get something out of them.

      1. So, if you can’t prove God, why are there so many blogs and apologetics sites trying to either do just that or countering those who would ask for that proof? Why the insecurity do you think?

      2. I think it’s a process for the natural thinker. There are many types of religious people in general: you’ve got your zealots (who take everything at face value and go all ‘gung-ho’ with it), you’ve got your ‘sheep’ who just does what their told without question, and then you have your people who are trying to rationalize all of the contradictions and ‘holes’ in their belief system. They feel it’s true, the enjoy the benefits of living a Christlike life, but they feel they need to “apologize” for the unexplainable. So, yeah, definitely a black whole.
        Also, I’ve seen a lot of apologists who get stuck in this perpetual defense mode, where they are honestly justifying their beliefs to themselves by projecting their insecurities about their beliefs on others.

      3. I guess what I’m asking is… Why are there so many out there, such as this blog, still trying to encourage belief and faith in a god that they know they can’t prove to even exist?

      4. Great question! I would encourage you to read the “what is Missio Opus” section, it kinda gives a little bit of background and motive to the blog.
        But, to answer your question, this blog is not about proving Christianity because it’s not possible. Instead, I feel that Christ’s teachings as a philosophy, or custom, is a very beneficial way of life because it brings peace to the uncertain mind.
        As an Atheist, I eventually had to resign myself to not knowing anything, thus I had to place my belief in whatever made sense to me. BUT, the problem I kept encountering in my search for truth was by bias and paradigms kept getting in the way. It’s almost impossible to be 100% objective, to the point where I decided that subjectivity is actually the way to go. So, what did I want to consciously believe in? What where my personal values? Well, I decided that Christ’s teachings would be my value system.
        So now, I try and teach other Christians to understand the true teachings of Christ, the benefit of living his teachings, and more importantly, how to approach others about said benefits.

    2. Boxing, I can track with what you’re saying about your atheism coming from an honest reevaluation of what you believed as a Christian and trying to answer the questions with apologetics resources. That dark hole has led many down the path to ditching Christianity and sometimes as far as atheism as well.

      1. Absolutely! Christian apologetics is so harmful to true Christian philosophy because it attempts to rationalize the supernatural. You cannot do it.

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