When non-believers think of Christians, we want them to think of an upstanding man or woman who loves God and exhibits the fruit of the Spirit. We do not want them to think of abortion clinic bombers or funeral picketers. When they project those qualities on us, we want to scream, “NO, I AM NOT LIKE THAT! That’s a misunderstanding.”
Now consider how Christians think of atheists. What’s popping into your mind? Is it someone ridiculing your beliefs? Blaspheming God? Suing governmental institutions to exclude every reference to God? If we do not want to be stereotyped, we should stop stereotyping atheists. After all, there are LOTS of atheists that silently and privately disbelieve in God. This is closet atheism.
In fact, you might be surprised to learn some people you assumed were Christians actually do not believe in God at all. They have not told you or anybody else because they are afraid they will be rejected or be forced to endure a long, one-sided conversion speech. If we regard and respect all of God’s creation, quiet atheists among us will be more likely to voice their opinions about God. Then, your love for them will have opened the door for an intellectual conversation about God and the Bible.
Once the closet atheists in your life feel comfortable enough to confide their lack of belief in God, you may feel privileged to have this information. Yet at the same time, you may feel too intimidated to speak openly about your faith in God. Try this:
*Serve this person. In John 13, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. If our Savior washed feet, we should never feel too superior to serve another human being. Be ready. Look and pray for opportunities to fill needs in this person’s life.
*Share your testimony. Wait for an appropriate time in natural conversation to share the story of how God delivered you, healed you, or saved you. If you cannot think of one that applies to yourself, share the true story of what God has done in someone else’s life. Atheists depend on logic to discern whether or not your story adds up so they may explain away the truth in their own mind. That does not matter. The truth of the testimony has an anointing that went forth when you spoke it. Spiritually, Jesus is knocking on their door. It is up to them to answer or not. Just do your part and speak the truth.
*Discuss God and the Bible. The key word here is “discuss.” In a natural conversation, bring up God and the Bible. Ask them what bothers them about Christianity. Be ready to answer according to the Bible. The fact that your answers are Biblical will not mean much to the atheist since they do not regard it as God’s Word, but you know you are speaking the truth if it is Scripturally founded. Admit you do not know all the answers. Humility is a virtue.
Do not take it personally if an atheist rejects your words. They are rejecting Christ—not you! Do not become discouraged no matter how long this atheist rejects Christ. God may be working emotional healing and/or other Christians to witness of God’s truth into that person’s life. Just keep praying for this person’s faith to be ignited. I pray you will boldly and lovingly communicate God’s invitation into His kingdom to any unbelieving people in your life.
Supposing a non-believer in your life agrees to say the sinner’s prayer with you or answers an alter call while visiting your church or somehow finds faith in God, then what? Go ahead and celebrate! Just don’t abandon them after the celebration. Take the time to disciple them. Encourage the new Christian to: 1) confess their faith publicly and become baptized by showing them what steps are necessary to become baptized, 2) attend church regularly by inviting them, 3) read their Bible by giving them one as a gift, 4) lead a holy life by being a good example.
Consider how much time Jesus spent with His disciples and how He loved them. I pray the Lord gives you the ability to disciple a new Christian in your lifetime with the heart of Jesus. Some of our best opportunities come within our own family. Take the time to disciple new Christians especially if they are your brothers, sisters, cousins, parents, and your very own kids. God bless!
PRAYER: Lord, I pray the atheists in our lives would have the courage to confess their lack of belief. I pray You would inspire us to love them the way You love us. Let them see Your glory and be saved by Christ’s blood. Thank You, Lord, that You are good to all and have compassion on Your creation. In Christ’s Name, Amen.
© 2015 Kim Bond
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