CAMPBELLTON, New Brunswick, May 1, 2023 – Every so often, I get contacted by people I knew when I was an atheist but who’ve heard I’m now a Christian. All the contact is done by email. Sometimes it comes in the form of a letter that reads like a job application, with a long list of accomplishments that could double as a resume. Or sometimes it reads like this: “You $#@%ing piece of #@@$! I $#@%ing HATE YOU!!!!”
They reach out in pride or anger and sometimes in pity or curiosity, but my job is to respond the same to all of them – in love. The prideful ones and the ones who curse me, I answer in prayer. The rest I answer in carefully coached words that minister to them without them knowing they’re being ministered to. I usually never hear from them again after their initial outreach, though a few do email me again a while later, more combatively than at first. I suspect that most of the emails are written while drunk.
Jesus never included any of his family or friends in his initial circle of followers. In fact, it wasn’t until his death and resurrection that his family members joined the group of believers. Recall that Jesus chose his followers according to God’s directives. He said, “of those you gave me, I have lost none”. So the followers were chosen by God, not by Jesus. Recall also that Jesus said that, as believers, our real family is those who do God’s will. The people who knew Jesus as the son of the carpenter continued to see him as the son of the carpenter, even after he came out as the Messiah, even after he performed miracle after miracle. Jesus said that prophets are not without honor, except among their own people.
It was a hard sell for Jesus, to be seen as something other than a carpenter to those who had only known him as a carpenter. It’s a hard sell for me to be seen as a believer in the eyes of those who only knew me as an unbeliever. They look for chinks in my spiritual armour to drive a wedge into. They write me off as mentally ill. They dismiss me as a fraud. They avoid me like the plague, afraid I’ll dare to utter the holy of name of Jesus in reverence rather than as I used to spew it, in hate.
They’re somehow afraid of me without knowing why. They despise me without knowing why. They look for excuses to hate me and hang their hatred on the smallest perceived slight as justification. I know what they do because I used to do it myself. Being an atheist was good training for being a Christian. I have the insider scoop on what makes unbelievers do what they do and think what they think and hate what they hate. But my knowing these things only makes unbelievers hate me all the more because I chose what they hate, and they can’t understand why.
My job as a born-again believer is to take all this in stride and return their hatred with love. I couldn’t do that without God’s direct intervention. It’s not me taking it all in stride, it’s God working through me. It’s not me loving those who loathe me, it’s God working through me. But it’s me giving God permission to do so. The haters see my love as fraud or idiocy or proof positive of mental illness, but I just continue along my merry way. They more they hate me, the more I pray for them. “Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do.” This is all good training, the daily doses of hate and loathing. Jesus also had years of this kind of training, and it stood him in good stead when he needed it the most: On the cross.
“Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do.”
That, my friends, is the whole point of our training.
I know why I don’t like theists. You espouse ignorance and hate of anyone different than you, hoping that they deserve death or worse for not agreeing with you. That is not love, just a need for control.
Thanks for your comment. Genuine Christians don’t hate and they don’t wish death on anyone. They love their enemies and pray and bless those who hate them and are rude to them. That’s what they’re taught to do by Jesus. They may not be perfect in doing that, but they strive to do it. I’m not sure where you’re getting your intel on allegedly hateful Christians, but someone who hates and wishes death on someone is not a Christian by definition. Sure, Christians hold tight to their beliefs (who doesn’t?), but they don’t hate and they don’t wish death on anyone. If they do, they’re not really Christians. Lots of people claim to be Christians, but as scripture says “by their love you’ll know them.” People who don’t love are not Christians, even if they say they are.