People in general are rather appalling to each other, self-absorbed, inconsiderate, competitive, often seeking to prey on the weak and vulnerable. Relentlessly driven to be dominant and not in a good way either. Many people want all the power and none of the responsibility and they don’t really care who they mow over in the process.
Growing up within atheism I soon learned that most non belief stems from some slight, some perceived offense, real or imagined, by Christians. Some people incorporate disappointment with God in there, too. Some Christians betrayed me, God allegedly betrayed me, so I now reject Christianity entirely and don’t believe in God anymore.
I suppose I am rather fortunate to have grown up within atheism and to now be residing within the 9th circuit of hell, because I know very clearly that those are human characteristics, the unpleasant nature of human beings, rather than behavior caused by Christianity or faith. If one were to completely rid the world of faith, the ugliness of human beings would still remain, in fact often it gets much worse.
I could write you a laundry list of horrors, of outright betrayals and backstabbing, of false allegations and harassment and outright abuse at the hands of non-Christians and even a handful of Christians, too. I used to think I had a sign on my back that said kick me. I soon learned however, that haters are going hate, people are going to people, and there’s not much I can do about it. I’m still trying to decide which is worse, those who mow over you deliberately or those too stupid to even realize what they’re doing.
I once listened to a pastor bragging about how many souls he had “won” and I was hit with the thought, and how many did you drive away in Christ’s name? His concept of faith was one of ostracizing and bullying, alienating “those kind of people,” the people he perceived as unworthy to be believers. As if we are not ALL unworthy, as if that is not the whole point.
I had nightmares about him placing all his “won” souls on one side of a scale and all of those he had driven away on the other. It never came out in his favor. It was actually a concept that really scared me. I can think of no greater horror then taking up Christ’s name and misrepresenting Him, causing people to believe in a vengeful, bullying God full of human ego.
To this day that scares me. It is the one thing I never wish to do, to be responsible for driving somebody away from faith. However, in my life I have over compensated there. I’ll just pray in my closet, keep a low profile, and never speak of faith, least I am somehow responsible for leading someone away from God rather than towards Him. Growing up hearing a million stories about how awful and oppressive Christians are made me keenly aware of how every aspect of your behavior as a Christian is often weighed and measured by others, looking for an excuse to not believe.
Over time however, God drug me out of the closet kicking and screaming and forced me to confront those fears. I began to understand that nobody is perfect and that having a relationship with Christ is about following Christ, not following people. Yes, we should all strive to represent Him properly, to the best of our ability, but none of us is ever going to be capable of controlling the response of others. People who are looking to you seeking evidence of a flawed Christian are going to find a flawed Christian. I am one. I’ve met many others who were flawed too. In fact, those are the best kind of all.
So when I encountered that pastor who was “winning” souls and alienating the “riff raff, ” I simply walked away. That is just an imperfect man trying to find his way in the world. I let it go and let God drive, let Him immerse me in all the lessons to be found there, to search my heart and to heal what had pushed my buttons, to show me why I found that behavior so appalling.
It was a very slight offense, nothing more than a small moment of annoyance really, but I did go to God with a humble heart and ask Him to fix it within me and He did, beautifully and gently. I could just as easily have said, as so many non believers do, “See, that man is why I am not a Christian, that man is why I reject Christianity and deny the existence of God entirely.”
I don’t want to sound harsh here, but that is just human pride, perceived offense, a desire for the approval of people rather than a desire for God’s favor. Pride nearly always walls off shame, shame that often doesn’t even belong to us. I have found that you really do have to choose over and over again, especially if you tend to be people pleaser. God first, people second, always. No one is ever allowed to come between me and that relationship.
I mention this because of how much I have changed, how much God has fixed the broken bits that used to make my soul ache. I hardly even noticed it, but today I have five ping backs to assorted atheist blogs, that point to my gentle words as if to say, “see, this woman is why I am not a Christian, this woman is proof that Christians are all horrible, delusional people… that hate sex.”
That last one made me laugh. Is there no bit of human dignity I shall be allowed to cling to, no depth of humiliation I won’t be plunged into? Apparently not. Thanks people. That’s me, hatin’ on sex.
Such a thing would have crushed me only a decade ago. I would have torn myself up into tangled knots if someone had tried to use me as an example of “why I am not a believer.” Bad Christian, no wafer for you. That would have pushed my buttons and sent me into a tailspin. I would have doubted my worthiness to even speak of my faith, I would have hidden in my closet in shame.
Today shame has no power over me and neither do people. I have been blessed with victory there, not my own victory, but the victory to be found in the healing grace of God.
Those who walk away from faith because of the poor behavior of others seldom find peace, because when you walk away, you must take your own self with you.
******REPOST FROM 2015