His Truth Will Set You Free

Listen to what Jesus says; “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)


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Message to Atheists – what if I’m wrong?

I believe in God and His Son, Jesus Christ. But what if I’m wrong? What if I come to the end of my life and discover it was all a lie? What if the end is truly the end; no benevolent Father in heaven, no heaven, no after-life? What a drag that would be. All this effort to believe, worship and follow – all for nothing.

But would it really be for nothing? This morning I started wondering how I might feel if I discovered it were indeed all a lie. Since I was agnostic up to my late 30’s and an atheist during part of those earlier years, I had a baseline for evaluating how my faith has affected my life. What did that faith do to me? How did that faith change me; the faith that I was now considering as possibly based on a lie?

Here are some of the changes that faith has made in my life:

  • I don’t swear like I used to.
  • I don’t lie like I used to.
  • I’m not as arrogant as I used to be. I’m much more humble.
  • I’m willing to acknowledge when I’m wrong, instead of trying to blame someone or something else (I used to do this a lot).
  • Faith has taught me to be much more patient than I used to be.
  • I don’t worry about things like I used to. I just trust that God will make the right things happen.
  • I used to run away from relationships that didn’t serve my self-interests. But with faith, I’ve been more willing to accept circumstances that are not always pleasant.
  • Faith has given me the strength to resist the temptation to cheat on my spouse, and I’ve been tempted a lot.
  • I used to be afraid of death. But now, the only thing that concerns me about death is the welfare of those I will leave behind.
  • I don’t agonize over people who have wronged me. Instead I’m now able to forgive them and very effectively let go of the pain. My relationship with God has taught me to replace hate with forgiveness, sorrow and sympathy. And now, memories of past wrongs bring peace, not pain.

I could go on, but it all boils down to the following: my faith in God and Jesus Christ has taught me about humility, love, hope, and how to more easily relate to and accept others.

In looking at all this I realize that I like what my faith in God has done for me. So if I discover tomorrow that my faith is based on a lie, I will be crushed and greatly disappointed, but I will definitely not feel that I wasted my life on something false. No matter what, I’m happy with what faith has done to me.

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But dear Atheist, what if I’m right? What if you come to the end of your life and discover it’s not really the end? What if you discover all this propaganda about heaven and hell, about salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, about God; what if it’s all true?

C.S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia fame), is quoted as saying, “Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of NO importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.”

I don’t know about you, but I would rather be a Christian and be wrong, than an Atheist and be wrong. The potential outcome isn’t nearly as devastating.


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Unfamiliar Territory

I have recently been venturing into unfamiliar territory; an atheist blog. I followed a link to an interesting looking post on the site. The post was about Jesus and indeed presented an out of the ordinary perspective. So I decided to submit a comment, where I made it clear I am Christian. I didn’t disagree with the assertions of the author; I just made an observation about Jesus’ purpose while on earth. Thus began a thread which has now exceeded 26 comments.

I seemed to become a target for the other readers of the atheist blog. Even though these readers know nothing about me, other than I’m a Christian, some of them proceeded to accuse me of being dishonest, insincere, gullible (they may be right with this one), a lair, and a slippery fellow.

My initial urge was to lash back at them. It would have been easy, since as it seemed to me, their arguments, statements and claims were illogical, and full of holes. But thanks to Jesus and His presence in my life, I resisted the temptation. I also found help in a new little phase I came across on another blog: What Would Jesus Have Me Do? (find it here)

The comment thread then became a learning experience for me; a lesson in patience, humility, and anger management. And I learned a lot about myself. For example…

The other people on the comment thread, who were so tempting me to verbally explode – I was once a lot like them. For about ten years of my life, I was an atheist, though I never considered myself a “radical” atheist. Yet I found myself uncomfortable around Christians. I was afraid they might try to convert me. I also held a low opinion of Christians; they appeared weak to me. I basically thought they were all weird.

Consequently, a shock came to me as I read the harsh and uncivil remarks directed at me and my comments; I grew to easily see myself making the same remarks, back when I shared their beliefs. I used to be as insensitive as they appeared to be. In fact, I might have been worse, for all of them seemed rather intelligent by how well they wrote, and they utilized words very cleverly. I believe I would have been clumsier with my words, and therefore harsher still in spewing venom towards my target.

In the course of the comment thread, I frequently went to my bible, looking for guidance, and this is what I found:

“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” (Matthew 5:11)

I found it actually easy to sincerely care for my enemies, once I realized I had once been one of them. Maybe we cannot always see ourselves in our enemies, but we should be able to find some reason to love and pray for them. And if for no other reason, than do it for yourself; for you will be blessed.

What is the benefit of not fighting back, yet accepting the persecution? What is the benefit of sincerely caring for our enemies? I see two: I know that I felt better and more at peace than I would have if I had lashed out. I also know that I was a better representative for Jesus. One of my prayers throughout the experience was that the readers of the atheist blog would not see in me, an ugly Christian. I wanted them to see Jesus, through me. And I wanted to do it without preaching.

Only God knows how well I held up in the unfamiliar territory. But I know I’m better for the experience. And perhaps God was glorified.