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We sometimes make the mistake, as born-again believers, of thinking that everyone is the same, that everyone deep down has the same common decency or at least the same capacity for common decency, but we’re wrong about that. There are some people who don’t have common decency and don’t even have the capacity for it. They’re more like animal predators than humans. That’s not to say they don’t have a right to live. And yet it is to say that if we try to live among those people, we shouldn’t be surprised if they cut our head off and rape what’s left. If we spend time around them knowing what they’re capable of and yet still insist that they’re “just like us”, then we get what’s coming to us. We get what we deserve, because we didn’t use our God-given common sense and instead tried to superimpose our fantasy world over a cruel reality.
Jesus distinguished two types of people in the world – those who were of God, and those who were of Satan. He didn’t mention that those who were of Satan could switch to become those who were of God, but he did say that those who were of God could end up children of Satan.
When I was a very young born-again believer, I thought that everyone alive on Earth had a shot at going Home. I thought that as long as a person was still breathing or had brain activity, there was hope for that person’s salvation. Now I believe that just like there are animal predators in the wild whose sole function is to keep the ecosystem in balance by killing the weak and infirm, so, too, are there human predators among us whose sole purpose is much the same as their animal counterparts, only on a spiritual level. These human predators can’t be reached by the Word because they have no capacity to receive it. God didn’t give them the capacity.
It’s a shock to the system when this realization hits you. As a born-again believer and adopted child of God, I have to admit it kind of freaks me out to be sharing the air with people who hate God (or, worse, are indifferent to him). They can never love God because they haven’t been created to love him; they’ve been created to deliver punishment.
I’ve known a few of these people intimately. I know I’ve known them, because God tells me not to pray for them. I used to pray for them, when I was newly born-again, but God one day told me to stop, and so I stopped.
I was raised by and around kind people. Being raised by and around kind people, I always assumed that everyone was kind. So I had to learn the hard way that not everyone is, and that some people pretend to be kind just to get what they want from you. Lying is a way of life for some people, so much so that they don’t even know they’re doing it most of the time. They just open their mouth and out comes a lie, because that’s what comes naturally to them. That’s how they were made.
When I lie, my palms sweat, my heart pounds, and I fail miserably at convincing anyone of my tall tale. I was never a good liar as an atheist. I couldn’t look someone in the face when lying to them, let alone look them in the eye. At the same time, I hated being lied to even more than being physically beaten. At least when you’re physically beaten, the evidence is right out there in front of you. But with lies, if the liar doesn’t admit to lying, then it’s just a cat and mouse game, with the liar usually winning by making up as many lies as necessary to wear the opponent down.
Jesus calls Satan the Father of Lies and explains that Satan was created that way. It wasn’t that God created Satan as a truth-teller and then somewhere along the line Satan developed a hankering for lying. No. Satan was created to lie. In the same way, there are people walking among us who are children of Satan not because they chose to be but because they were born that way – without the capacity to love Truth, which means without the capacity to love God.
As I said, I have known some of these people intimately, and as a born-again believer, I know now to keep my distance from them. I would never purposely be cruel to them or name them, but I let them be. Nothing good ever comes from poking a stick in a spiritual hornet’s nest. They have their purpose (otherwise, they wouldn’t be here), but they are not targets for conversion.
There are whole regions of the world that are full of natural born liars without common decency, whole regions that are the territory of Satan’s children. In fact, lying is so much a part of some cultures, that it is ingrained in the people as a cultural value. In those cultures, someone who is particularly good at lying (that is, someone who can fool even born liars) is considered to be highly accomplished. These cultures are now being blended with former Christian cultures, the latter which also have their fair share of natural-born liars without common decency.
When we try to superimpose our understanding of how people should be (kind, decent, honest, hard-working, etc.) over people who have no capacity for those character traits, we do no-one a favour. It’s better to see these people for who and what they are, and to give them a wide berth and stay out of their space, the same as you’d give a rabid animal a wide berth. Those who are born children of Satan will die children of Satan, and there’s nothing we can do to change that.
There was a man several years ago who gained some notoriety for living among grizzly bears in Alaska during the summer months. He talked to them and interacted with them as if they were children, and for the most part the bears tolerated him. However, there was a difference between the bears that lived in close proximity to people and those that did not. The bears that lived in close proximity to people became acclimatized to people and so, while not tame, were at least OK with people being in their vicinity, including the man who talked to them like children. But the bears that lived deeper in the woods and never came into contact with people were a different bear altogether.
The man who spent his summers with grizzlies learned that fact the hard way when he tried to use the same interaction techniques that had been successful with the human-acclimatized bears on bears that were not human-acclimatized. The non-human-acclimatized bears came down from the mountains to spend the colder months on the plains, where it was warmer. The man wasn’t usually in the plains area during the fall months, which is when he encountered one of these ferociously wild bears and met a sordid end. His mistake was in thinking that all bears were basically the same deep down and so could be treated and interacted with the same. Many people make the same mistake by thinking that all people are the same deep down. They are not. Some are born with the capacity to love God, and some are not. Some, as difficult as it may be for us to accept, are naturally-born children of Satan.
Jesus doesn’t tell us to seek out the children of Satan to destroy them. In fact, he tells us in the parable of the wheat and the tares to let them be, that God will deal with them at the Judgment. Meanwhile, as we make our way along the path homeward, we need to be fully aware of the existence of these people so that we can steer clear of them (which is not difficult to do, as they likewise want to steer clear of us). Don’t hate them, don’t publicly expose or ostracize them, and don’t preach to them: just let them be. God will deal with them in his way and in his time.
I have spent the past 18 years living as a Christian. Prior to that, I was a loud and proud atheist.
I have not changed.
My values have changed, but my personality has not. I am still the same impetuous, occasionally impatient, outspoken, laugh-out-loud, fearless person I always was. I did my own thing as an atheist, and I do my own thing now.
Being a Christian doesn’t prevent you from doing your own thing. It just changes what that “thing” is. (more…)