Atheist Churchgoer

Vyckie confessed to feeling slightly guilty for she already missed going to church for four straight Sundays. But she is not your typical, active churchgoer. She is an atheist. She “deconverted” years ago because of, in her own words, “the Bible and Christian doctrine which I finally recognized as ridiculous and even abusive.”(Source: exchristian.net)

She clarified though that she is only criticizing the faith and not the faithful. “So when I write or speak about the evils of Christian fundamentalism and biblical literalism, I’m talking about words, ideas, beliefs, thoughts which affect and influence the flesh-and-blood people who listen to these abstractions and take them to heart… I didn’t leave Christianity because of any failure of the people. For the most part, I found the Christians I knew to be sincere, generous and supportive.” (Ibid) So, even if she loathes Christianity, she loves being with her Christian friends. “I’m still going to church because that’s where my social life is (mostly). I love the people there… They see me, they know me – I am a real person – same as them” (ibid). I really appreciate how her church accepted her for who she is (or, is not). Thus, though she denounces the teachings, Vyckie wrote that she can’t deny that “remaining in close contact with practicing Christians helps me to remember that they do what they’re doing for all the same reasons that used to motivate me too: a sincere heart and genuine desire to love the Lord and to love their neighbors. This keeps me from building up a caricature of ‘Christian people’ in my own mind whom I must fight against and expose as deluded and hypocritical.” (Ibid)

Vyckie’s experience underscores the truth behind this saying: “People do not care how much we know unless they know how much we care.” And we are to care for people even when they don’t care about what we know. The early church was known for “having favor with all the people.” (Acts 2:47, ESV) It is also noted that, though they were afraid to join the church, “the people held them in high esteem” (5:13). The people respected the church because they were real. We are not called to impress people but to express the love of God to them. “Be wise in the way you act toward those who are not believers, making good use of every opportunity you have. Your speech should always be pleasant and interesting, and you should know how to give the right answer to everyone.” (Colossians 4:5-6, GNT)

Brethren, love to express, not to impress.

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