Christians and Good Atheists
Sometimes I see really good people helping the homeless or starting organizations to end poverty and I hope they are Christians.
Because then that would validate that Christianity is working and making people better than people who are not.
But a lot of times those folks helping the homeless are atheists. It’s confusing.
But last night as I was bawling like a baby after watching this old TV show I’m sort of obsessed with (Joan of Arcadia), I think I figured out one main difference.
Both Christians and non-Christians alike can do good things. But Christians are different because they do very certain things. I’ll tell you what I mean.
I was crying because in this TV show God shows up to this teenage girl in the form of nosy people and tells her to do strange things. Like build a boat. Or join the chess club when she knows she’s horrible at chess. But then only because she’s obedient in things that she has no idea how God is going to use, her parents stop fighting. Or her brother realizes he’s not alone. Or a teacher decides not quit their job. But like it’s a lot of beautiful things that only happen because God knows what is happening in each person’s hearts. And her little action was the catalyst to make those things fall into place. In the episode I just watched Joan finally tells God, “No, I won’t do what you want me to do. In fact, I don’t want to see you anymore. I just want to be normal again.”
Oh yeah, the crying part. I was crying because I think God has told me to do some stuff and I’ve basically told him, no thanks. See you later. Like random things I felt like he was telling me to do while I was praying. Things that aren’t bad, but they’re strangely specific. Like join a small group. Work out for an hour every day. Stop masturbating because I don’t want you to be numbed to hurt and longing anymore. And in the latest one he used a really scary way to tell me to study the Bible more. (I thought he was telling me to convert to Mormonism.)
I’ve tried to start most of these requests but usually I just get busy and forgetful and stop.
I usually tell myself I’m doing fine because I try to be nice to everyone I meet, I’m not doing anything very harmful to anybody, and I volunteer when an opportunities arise, because those are supposed to be GOOD things. But I think that’s covering the problem. I do good things so that I feel good and so that I could argue my case before God and I’m good enough to go to heaven. But I’m not listening TO God. Or if I’m listening I’m not really obeying. That is it.
I mean I think I should still have compassion for the poor in general and help them whenever they present themselves to me, and maybe God will ask me to do that more. But I think the more important thing is that I need to do more of what he has specifically asked me to do.
I kind of like to think of God as a brilliant, passionate writer weaving us in to his beautiful story, instead of a cold cosmic judge. And when I choose to do something he asks me to do it’s because he’s doing something wonderful inside of me I just can’t see yet. Or He is setting up an opportunity for something else really beautiful that he wants to happen if I’ll just let him use me.
And I think to do this it requires me to do something Atheists don’t really do. Pray. Telling God I’m willing, that “You know better than I do,” and then asking God to tell me what He wants to say.
And when I’m sobbing at my desk at 2:40 am, or weeping in my car because God is speaking to me through Adele (I know, it sounds ridiculous), and I’m like, “God, I really want to do what’s right. Just tell me what I need to do.” Sometimes it isn’t “Go help the poor” or “Stop human trafficking” but something as simple as “Sleep in tomorrow, Ross, so you are well rested. Then just spend a few hours in the morning waiting on me. And be ready to go deep in your Bible when I tell you to. And that will help you do everything else better. I want you to get good at hearing my voice again.”
Humbly, Raw Spoon, 6-15-17