This post is in response to a bit of on-line drama that I witnessed between two of my friends and a third party who I do not know. It left me deeply saddened. Generally, I’d stay out of it, but one of my friends asked a question that requires an answer. For someone who knows me to ask this question, it means that I have been too silent, too reserved. I’m not looking for more drama — will not engage in it. But I must answer what I believe was an honest question.
First: an analogy. There are a lot of indie authors who go on Twitter every few minutes and scream, “buy my book!” That doesn’t mean they’re bad authors. It doesn’t mean that all indie authors are bad. It means they don’t know how to market their books, or perhaps they do. (Watched any pharmaceutical ads lately?) That is how they try to sell their books.
You won’t see me going around yelling for people to “buy my book!” But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want you to. It just means that method of communication doesn’t work for me. I figure — if you want it, you’ll buy it. But don’t think I don’t care about sales or whether people love my baby.
Now: the question. A friend and I were exchanging comments that someone had died as an atheist and how terribly sad this was. A second friend asked what being an atheist had to do with it. I suspect that this person felt we were discussing the method of death, but the point wasn’t how the person died, but that the person had died without Jesus. Perhaps it was because we had used the phrase “without hope” — but that is not relating to depression, it is relating to the future. (Depression is a different topic, and one that I believe is not related to the rest of this post. Yes, Christians get depressed. They get cancer and colds, too.)
At the heart of this is an anthropological difference — a world-view difference. We were speaking from a different mind-set. And in order to explain that mind-set, I need to explain my world-view. Perhaps this will answer the person who chimed in who hates all Christians, but perhaps not. I’m sorry to say that if you can find it in your heart to hate all ____ based on generalities, you may find you have some problems with other groups as well. Prejudice is a sneaky thing, forgive me for saying. It happens to all of us. It is easy to hate someone we don’t understand. Regardless of our religious or philosophical bent, we have to keep an eye out for how quickly prejudice can creep in.
So — to understand my world-view, to answer the question of why we were so sad, here are the relevant bits from what I believe:
- The universe we live in is at war.
- God created humanity as the sparkling jewel of His creation. Each human is His greatest treasure. Humans are spiritual beings, much more than the flesh we inhabit.
- God wants nothing more than for humans to love Him. He also knows that love can never be coerced. It must be freely given, freely chosen. So He gave us freedom.
- God’s enemy took advantage of the choice that God gave to humanity and convinced the first humans to doubt God’s love. They chose to follow the enemy. They left their first love for another who promised them something more than what they had. Humans haven’t changed much.
- As a result of that first choice, our bodies die. We can be killed by ___ (insert religious group, disease, war, weapon, food, vice, whatever your passion or fear may be here). In the end, something will kill us. Be it age-related illness or just plain stupidity, we’re not getting out of this world alive. In our deepest hearts, we know this is not how it is supposed to be. But certain death is our reality.
- Most humans have an opportunity to choose during their life. I’m not talking religion here. I’m saying: one-on-one you choose for yourself whether you love Jesus or not. Whenever possible, the enemy muddles that choice with lies and deception. Often, he uses religion to drive people away from God.
- Jesus is my dearest friend, the love of my heart. I’ve made my choice. This gives me hope, because when this body dies, I will be with Jesus.
- Some people choose not to believe in Jesus. Others actually believe and choose not to follow Him. I believe that when these people die, they will spend eternity without Him. They will have what they have chosen.
- People talk about Hell. God created Hell as a place for the enemy to reside. The rest of the universe is God’s realm, full of wonder and exploration, adventure and beauty. God didn’t create Hell for humanity and He would not willingly send any human there. The only way humans go to Hell is if they choose to go there, by choosing to go where He is not.
- And that is why we were sad. Because it is possible that someone we were fond of had chosen to go where there was no God.
Now — you can hate me for feeling that way. You can think I’m crazy. The person who posted who did not know me surely will. But while there is breath in my body, no friend of mine will not know that they have a chance to make that choice.
AND — for those who are into hard sell, who argue that I don’t make posts like this often enough, I will go one step further. Jesus died to make sure that each human had a right to make that choice. So I will defend my friends’ rights to choose — WHICHEVER way they choose. And I will respect my friends’ choices, even when I do not agree with them and even when they make me sad.
And THAT is why my non-Christian friends are not bombarded with “come-to-Jesus” messages.
Normally I post a warning at the top of my “religious” posts. I did not on this one. It was not an omission. If I have given anyone offense, I apologize for the offense — but not the words.
Because some questions deserve an answer.