2 Tim 3
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.
- For men will be lovers of self, - Check
- lovers of money, -Check
- boastful,- check
- arrogant,- check
- revilers, -check
- disobedient to parents, -Check
- ungrateful, -check
- unholy,- Check
- irreconcilable,- check
- malicious gossips, -check
- without self-control, - check
- brutal, - check
- haters of good, - check
- treacherous, -check
- reckless, -check
- conceited, - check
- lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, -check
Every month I think of what my post is going to be about. I pray about it and wait most of the times. Some days , there is something boiling over in my heart and it just pours out on the screen in a passionate fervor. This month, It wasn't so easy. I prayed and listened and I didn't get much. I prayed and listened and then got a hint of "pride" I kept praying and I got " humility" and I prayed and I got "atheism"
I've started this post 4 separate times and I've thought about how to word what keeps coming back to me. I've opened with this passage from 2 Tim because this is what is right outside my door, and this is what has killed friends of mine. This is what often drips into my heart.
There have been dozens of days in my life where I have been every part of this list of things not to be. The mind might say that this is a full list of everything to check off to be considered good. That is the tricky part of the brain... It wants to follow lists, check things and rationalize what is good by parameters. I, am not a good man by nature. To be honest, if it were not for the grace and the mercy of God working in my life and covering my shortcomings, I'd be all of these things all of the time. I'd be a killer and thief. I'd be a staggering beast of a man drunk on rage and thirsty for revenge. I am ashamed of who I would be if it were not for the Grace and Mercy of God.
There are many times that I wrestle with God, and against myself. I can often come across as proud when I'm being sincere. Other times I can come across as proud when I am prideful, don't think that I think I am not aware of that as a flaw. An acquaintance of mine who is fond of giving me grief for my ascription to God tends to ridicule the Bible referring to it as "That book you follow" I think that pride would rise up and seek to justify ones self and say "YES, I DO FOLLOW THIS BOOK" as they launch into a speech about it. I couldn't do that. All I could think, and eventually was able to respond with was "If I followed this book, I would be so much of a better person than I am" Some areas of my life have triumph, others have war, others are dead but lingering with a hope in the power of resurrection. I believe that this person feels as though my declarations of truth to be a smug sense of self exaltation, and that I have deemed myself better than those without it. In my witness to my atheist friend, I often fail to accurately represent the Messiah as I know Him.
My pride wants to engage in battle and fight against the slandering of my belief... but I know, I know that I am susceptible to mirroring the attributes of my "enemy" instead of loving them the way that I am supposed to. Loving them the way that I want to. My flesh intermingles in the message and then it is not a "debate" of good vs evil, truth vs a lie... it's just fleshly attitude and the same fleshy attitude polarizing and holding each other in contempt because one will not see it the way the other does.
I do not want to be that man any more.
I hold Atheism in contempt because it has killed several people very close to me. These men were brothers and father figures who I lived with. Some of their characters reflected generosity, compassion, love, patience, gentleness, kindness and much laughter. They were as brothers to me. We ate together, we lived together, we fed homeless together, we helped people move together. We were about being men who were there for people. One by one, they changed. One by one they rejected conversations, fellowships, they became reclusive. One by one they rejected God and became this people that wasn't happier. They weren't more generous. they were not more patient. They were not more gracious or kind. They became brutal in their words and actions. The became men who loved themselves more than others. Their pride welled up and choked off relationships.
I still mourn for those people. They were my BEST friends whom I would have died for.
Most of them never fully had a relationship with God though. They like being around church people. They liked being a part of a community. They liked the feeling of acceptance and the intellectual stimulation, but as churches are full of broken people... they would find reasons to reject God. One said that they hated the church because the people didn't love enough. I could write pages on pages of everything that the people had sacrificed for that one man alone. It wouldn't matter, because there was a hole in his soul that could only be filled by God, and no amount of godly people can fill it. Instead of being a part of the solution of a church that loves more, he became ungrateful and conceited. As I tried to love them where they were at, it wasn't enough. It wasn't enough to see a movie or get a bite to eat because they hated God, and my proximity to Him so much it was detestable to them.
I look at how far Christ has brought me, how much of the hate He's taken out of my heart, and I am humbled. That isn't to say that one of those men that I mentioned looks to take advantage of someone close to me, that some of that hate doesn't flare back up... because honestly it has. I'm not blind to that area of failure and work that God and I need to take care of. The fact that God is still letting me breath instead of wiping me out by way of some asteroid is a point of His grace. Truthfully, I'd deserve it. I'm not a good dude, but He's living in me. The Bible says that God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. I'll tell you, over the past 3 weeks I know that my pride was acting up in a few different areas. God embarrassed me in a certain area and it humbled me, and I thank him from my heart. I don't think that I'm better than anyone else. I see all people as equal, but not all ideas as equal. I don't see all character aspects as equal. Because I hold a view in contempt does not mean that I love those who hold that belief in lower regard. Atheists are human beings made in the image of God
... for any Atheists reading this, I do sincerely apologize that I don't always treat you right.