Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Atheism, family, and love.

I know I haven't posted in a long time, and who knows who will even realize that this is even up. But let's move past that.

I just read an article on (a very liberal "news"-ish site) written by a young, female atheist who spends her time blogging, writing, going to conferences, etc. to spread the message of atheism and raise awareness of various human rights issues. Anyway, the point of the article was that she had begun to realize that the worst sexism and horrible comments the came her way online (death threats, rape threats, etc) were not coming from the right-wing that disagreed with her (although there were some from them too). But rather, they were coming from people on "her own team". So she decided to start speaking out about this. And it got much, much worse. I don't know if I even finished reading the article, but it made me so sad. She seemed so disillusioned, having compared the familial feeling she felt in her community of atheists to what "christians must feel in a church", only to find that they were the worst of her attackers. I admit, to my shame, that part of me was relieved. Relieved that for once, I wasn't hearing again how badly the christians were behaving. Finally, the non-believers are worse than us. But how sad for her. To have chosen not to believe in God, and become part of a community that she now feels attacked by. How alone she must feel. And all the while I was reading this, my Pandora station was playing "Mighty to Save" by Hillsong United and then "Wonderful Maker" by Jeremy Camp. And this morning I was reading in Jeremiah, about how God was so frustrated with his people for turning from him, and the pain He felt is so tangible, you can feel it coming off the page. And it brought to mind when Jesus told Jerusalem how he longed to gather them into his arms. I wish I could give this girl a hug.

 I'm not sure what the take-away from this is, other than a stark reminder of how much God loves and a reminder to me to pray, pray, pray for the lost. But I'm also convicted to love my fellow Christians the same way. The ones who disgust me with their hatred and condemnation of others. The ones who make me look bad when I say I'm a christian. We watched the Father of Lights video at church a couple of weeks ago, and it was all amazing, but for me the most shocking part wasn't the miracles that were performed. It was when the people who went to Venice Beach to minister to the lost ran into a group who were running around with signs that talked about condemnation, who shouted through bullhorns to the people that they were going to hell. And the one of the "good guys" talked and prayed a blessing over one of the guys with a bullhorn. He prayed that God would bless him, financially, and with spiritual gifts, and I was so surprised. Could I pray a blessing over one of the people from the Westboro church? Something to wrestle with. What does it mean to love my brothers and sisters in Christ that I disagree with so whole-heartedly? I always stuck with 'just because I have to love them doesn't mean I have to like them!' as a defense when it came to fellow christians I just didn't like. But that's not love at all. You cannot love someone if you don't like them. It's always meant so much more to me that God really LIKES me, than to hear for the 80-millionth time that He loves me. So I'll keep praying for the lost, and for the atheist author, but most especially for my own heart. That God will give me eyes to see and like people, most of all the ones who are hard to love because I expect more of them. To remember how much I've been forgiven and loved and liked despite the stupid things I've said or done. Because when I remember those things, it's much harder to fault anyone else for anything. Please God, make this forgetful girl never forget how much she's been forgiven.