Came across this quote today on facebook. I had seen it before. But something was different about it today. Now, likely nothing was actually different about it. More likely, something was different about me. Ever have that? You see things day in, day out but you never really notice them. Or you notice them differently now than you did then? That’s the way this quote worked on me today.
The person who posted this wondered aloud if Penn Jillette was softening is views on the existence of God. Penn, a vocal atheist, hasn’t, to my knowledge, announced or renounced anything. And my thoughts about this quote do not really deal with his non-belief, but, in fact, our belief.
See, he seems to understand our purpose as Christians better than we do (sometimes). And I have never said that about an atheist before now. Normally, atheists and agnostics get just about everything regarding our faith wrong. Most of the time, they even get the definition of Christian faith wrong from the start. But here, he asks, “How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize?” He sees that the believer’s act of delivering the Good News as an urgent God-directed mission of love, as we should. But do we really?
Penn offers that we may fear an awkwardness in our relationship with others if our actions are somehow rebuffed. From his perspective, he just doesn’t believe that it’s real. His personal conviction is that God isn’t real, so this isn’t something of value.
But to believers, it must be real. After all, this is our worldview. Our conviction is that God stepped down from His throne, into time, in the human form of His Son, Jesus Christ. This God-Man then, in order to rescue those who love Him, sacrificed Himself to pay for their sins, while they were still sinners. He atoned for their (our) rotten deeds in a way that the Old Testament sacrifices could not. With the blood of a perfect sacrifice. Our conviction is that Grace prevailed over our depraved nature and those who love God are now new creations. And our Lord has entrusted with us this message to the world.
So if these are our convictions, “How much do you have to hate somebody not to proselytize?” Maybe it’s not hate, maybe it’s fear. Or worse, maybe, we simply lack conviction. Because if we believe that the Cross that took the life of our Savior is the only way that the world can gain eternal life, for what reasons are we keeping this to ourselves?
Friends, if it is a lack of conviction, there are ways to know that what we believe is true. There is information that we can attain that answers our reasonable doubts. We have the goods. We can be bold in our actions. We need not be defensive or harsh. We need not shrink from challenges to our faith. You can also pray for help with your unbelief or for God to continue His work in you, a maturing of your spirit.
Or maybe it is that we aren’t sure of our own salvation? Could that be? But, as believers, we know that the greatest commandment tells us to love God and love each other. So when we evangelize, when we share the Gospel, in doing so, we assure ourselves of the genuineness of our faith every time because, how much must we have to love somebody (God) to trust His Word and put it into action despite relentless chirping of a contrary culture that worships idols of comfort and greed? In addition, how much must we have to love somebody (others) to risk our relationship with them and tell them the truth that: God is real, the Cross is real, and the Resurrection is true.
May we show love that changes lives. And if for some reason we don’t, may we seek to change that about ourselves, God helping us.