Reaching The Online Generation

An Initiative of CityTeam Ministries

Becoming Friends with Atheists and Witches

Posted on | March 2, 2009 |

Joe Hernandez  sent me a YouTube video by Penn of Penn and Teller. Penn is a very outspoken atheist – very outspoken. Anyways, here is the video:

 

I want to point out two things I noticed from this video.

Genuine Respect

You cannot fake respect. How many Christians – both intelligent and rabid – have tried to convert Penn? How many do you think truly respected him as a person? The Businessman’s respect of Penn – as a human and as an entertainer – caused Penn to take the time to vlog about this ‘Good Man.’

When you look at people, do they feel that you respect them?

I was recently plurking with an atheist friend. She was having some health problems and I wanted to pray for her. I opened a private plurk and asked her if it would be ok to pray for her. I explained that I knew she didn’t believe in God and that I wasn’t trying to evangelize her – I just wanted to do the biggest thing for her that I knew I could do given that we were separated by geography and worldview. She told me that it would be fine, even through she didn’t believe it would do any good. She would accept the sentiment because she knew I wouldn’t mean it in the snarky way most Christians in her experience have offered to pray for her.

She knew I respected her. Penn knew the businessman respected him. In both cases, respect earned the permission to show the love of Christ.

Genuine Caring

Penn could tell that this businessman cared for him. And, as you can tell from the video, it had an impact.

Do you share the Gospel because you deeply care for people, or because you want another mark in the back of your Bible?

Look at it this way – if you knew someone would never accept Jesus, and they needed blood, would you give it to them? If you knew someone would never accept Jesus, would you jump in front of a bullet for them?

When people look into your eyes, can they tell that you love them deeply, or do they feel you just want to convert them?

I was talking with a witch friend of mine about what I believe. I let her know, that although we disagreed on all aspects of faith, that I would give her blood if she needed it, encourage her when she was down, and die for her kids if I had to. She told me I was ‘…crazy, but wonderful.’ Later she told me that while she and her husband were talking that he said, “That is what a Christian is supposed to be.”

I cared for her and her family, and it made all the difference.

If you don’t care about people, you will be useless for the Kingdom.  Bottom line.

How to Change

If you struggle with respecting and caring for people who do not follow Jesus, you have to change. There are a couple of things I do to help cultivate respect and caring.

Pray

It sound cliché, but it’s not. Pray that God will give you a heart for people. Pray that He will help you care for them and respect them.

Pray long and hard – over and over again. Then repeat.

Listen

When I don’t care about someone, it’s probably because I haven’t humanized them. This is especially true with online relationships. Take the time to listen to their story. Listen long enough that you know the cadence of their plurks and twitters. When they have a bad day and it bugs you, you’re on the right track. Keep going.

If you went up to Penn and handed him a Bible, would he have had the same things to say about you that he did of this businessman? Would my atheist friend allow you to pray for her? Would a witch recognize that you are everything a Christian should be?

If not, what are you going to do about it?

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Comments

3 Responses to “Becoming Friends with Atheists and Witches”

  1. Daniel Berman
    March 3rd, 2009 @ 12:18 am

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Mentioned this at http://danielcberman.co.cc/post/83056925.

  2. Paul
    March 4th, 2009 @ 8:12 am

    Thanks Daniel! Good to see you again!
    -Paul.

  3. Charlie12string Lax (Second Life name)
    April 1st, 2009 @ 3:29 am

    Excelent comments! I have found this to be so true, especially in relationships in Second life where one gets the chance to meet people that one might never meet in Real life.

    Combined with taking the time needed to build up relationships, as mentioned in your article on the 4th Dimension a truly caring heart may achieve much more openness to the gospel.

    Thanks for your wonderful articles and encouragement.
    Best Regards, Charlie.

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    Who is God?' was one of the top three sentences googled in 2007, according to Google Zeitgeist. According to Alexa, the top two religious websites are Muslim, with BibleGateway coming in at a close third. The Online Generation is spiritual. They are seeking. And the church is the last place they would go to find spiritual fulfillment. This site is dedicated to those walking with The Online Generation and living lives of obedience to all the commands of Jesus Christ.
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