June 15, 2007
My Friend the Atheist
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:17 (NIV)
I have a dear friend who is a wonderful person and terrific mom. We enjoy watching our kids do sports together and when there is time, we work out together. We respect each other and care about one another, but we come from two totally different vantage points. I am a passionate, sold out Christian. She is a staunch atheist.
Without much discussion on the subject, we basically agree to disagree. But there is something going on behind the scenes that is so very exciting… she is seeing Jesus in me.
Just a few days ago, we were discussing ‘true beauty’ while sweating and straining through sit ups. She told me her counselor had recently asked her to describe a person who exemplified true feminine beauty and she’d quickly answered, “Deborah Norville.” But after a little more thought, she gave the counselor my name.
I laughed and told her that the only picture that should come to her head when she thought of me was a sweaty woman in workout cloths, a scraggly pony tail hairdo, and no makeup. How could that qualify as beautiful? Her answer stirred my heart, “Lysa, it is what you have on the inside that is so beautiful.”
I was amazed not because I took the compliment for myself, but rather for my sweet Jesus. I am convinced she sees the reality of Jesus shining through my many cracks and is drawn to Him in me. Even an atheist has God’s fingerprints all over their soul. Her inner most being was created by God’s hand and something inside her must recognize Him ever so slightly. So, that is where I start witnessing to her. No lengthy debates. No theological discussions. No hell fire and brimstone. I simply live and love and make the reality of Jesus known through my interactions with her and others.
She will not care to meet my Jesus until she meets the reality of Jesus lived out through my life. What a challenge for all of us! There are many people who are turned off by Christians because they hear us say one thing but live out another. I so desperately want to live Jesus out loud. I want to tell the whole world about Him, using words if only necessary. Then I am convinced I will have the privilege to one day sit down over a cup of coffee and have my friend the atheist say, “I want what you have. You make me think God could possibly be real. Will you teach me?” And what a day that will be!
Dear Lord, thank You for the privilege to know You. Thank you for changing my bitterness into joy, my horrible past into a hope-filled future, and my broken dreams into fulfilled promises. Help me to live everyday reflecting the reality of You in me. I want to lead many people to the glorious hope that can only be found in You. May it be so, every day of my life, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Write down the names of a couple of people in your sphere of influence that need to meet the reality of Jesus. Make a point to pray for these people. Then look for ways to be Jesus to them. List three things you could do over this next month for each of them.
Beautiful in God’s Eyes by Elizabeth George
Think back over the last year of your life. In what area has God chiseled away some of those rough edges that have made it difficult for others to see Jesus in you? Jesus spoke harshly to the Pharisees of His time, calling them “hypocrites” because they appeared to be righteous on the outside, but had hearts of stone on the inside. As you experience the reality of God in your own life, the power of Jesus will continue to chisel away the stone to make you effective as you interact with those around you.
Matthew 23:27, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.”
Romans 13:14a, “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Corinthians 3:18, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with every-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
1 John 3:18, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Friday, 15 June 2007.