If you have ever done any real witnessing at all, or have ever entered into a conversation with people about Jesus, you have invariably come across someone who claims to be an atheist. There are plenty of them out there. And it is our job to reach them and tell then about the love, forgiveness, and grace of our God. But the strange thing about people who claim to be atheists is that they were at one time believers. I have NEVER YET met any person who was an atheist from childhood. They will always say “I used to believe in God, but……” And that is where the crux of the matter starts to appear. Every atheist I have ever met, who is willing to talk about their beliefs, will eventually say that they are actually harboring anger and resentment towards God for something that happened to them, and that is why they choose to no longer believe. They have become masters of masking their pain, and have just chosen instead to lay the accusation against their tarnished view of God.
Here is an interesting video from the British band XTC. The first time I heard this catchy tune back in 1986, I was a little disturbed. But once I really understood what Andy Partridge was saying, it spoke volumes to me about the mindset of a disenfranchised believer. The lyrics have been subtitled thanks to the Youtube poster.
Ironic that a person who doesn’t believe in God is writing Him a letter, isn’t it? And as he takes out his anger on the tree with his two hammers, he is expressing his pain just like so many people the whole world over have done again and again. Let’s examine the song.
How many times have you heard questions like these:
If God is real, why is there so much suffering in the world?
Why would a loving God let babies be slaughtered in wars and go hungry?
If God really exists, why doesn’t he stop the madness in the world today? Why did he let Hitler kill six million Jews? Why does He allow African genocide?
If God created us, why does he allow such sickness and disease in the world?
Sound familiar? Many times we get into a theological debate, or just throw scriptures at them like this one:
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 (New Living Translation)
Know this: hurting people hurt others. Try to pick up a dog that has just been hit by a car. It will bite you even though you are trying to help. And many times people that are angry at God have been hurt. Ask the right questions that will lead them to reveal when they stopped believing in God and what happened. You will be amazed at what many people have been through and why they feel like God has forsaken them.
I find it is best to remind people that this messed-up world will be passing away soon, and God will make everything right and restore it back to its intended condition. John got a glimpse of this when he wrote:
"And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” Revelation 21:3-5 (New King James Version)
There is a new day coming in which all the evil of this world which made some people question the existence of a loving Creator will be gone, and they will get to see Him face to face. And yes, this God they curse and revile has the compassion to personally wipe away all tears from the eyes of those whom He loves.
If we don’t have the conversation with them which brings hope and leads them to the truth of God, who will? Let the atheist rage. It’s OK! Love covers a multitude of sins. And the more we can love an angry, obnoxious atheist, the better the chances we have of reaching them with the truth