It is my hope in sharing this that it may offer insight to the atheist perspective for Christians trying to reach an individual. It helps to gain understanding of how another person views spiritual matters. I also hope that each reader would reflect on how they represent the faith and intentionally address any weak areas that may be hurting their witness.
From hardcore atheist who couldn’t stand Christians to being a devout Christian is nothing less than a powerful transformation. This is my story.
I was raised in a home with Christian parents of different denominations. We didn’t have a church. We did have bibles. We didn’t do bible studies or Vacation Bible School or anything like that. They taught me about God through their faith, and I accepted it as fact when I was young. By middle school the science and logic part of me had kicked in and I didn’t believe in things I couldn’t see. Around 14 I started exploring different religions. I’ve always liked to study religion. That’s certainly not a bad thing. I found Christians at school to be a turn-off for representing Christianity. They were so rude to anyone who wasn’t like them. I made some non-Christian friends and went through a Wiccan phase my freshman year of high school. I liked the earthy natural feel, but the belief in it didn’t last. Again, I don’t believe in things I can’t see or experience. I felt like there could be or maybe should be a god out there, but didn’t find a religion to fit me or that felt right to me. Perhaps my biggest turn off to Christianity was the Christian youth I encountered and their treatment of people who weren’t like them. Whether that be atheists or any non-Christian, the goth crowd, the queer community, or even their own kind with a different subcategory label (denomination), they had no tolerance for the diversity of humanity. From time to time, Christians will ask me about my atheist years or my conversion to Christianity because they want to share the gospel with someone. There were several reasons I was atheist. I’ll share them here. Please do continue in the blog series on my faith journey to hear the rest of the story about why and how I became Christian, why I’m still Christian, and chapters of my story unfolded.
In writing this blog, I did my best to step back into the perspectives I had before I came to know Christ. Of course, many of these issues I see differently now that I have the revelation of knowing Jesus is real. I hope this is insightful for the Christian looking to have a better understanding of why someone may be a nonbeliever.
Why I was atheist:
Jesus made me want to be Christian.
Important note: There are many good Christians out there. They represent Christ with their love and their character. I do not want to sound like I’m bashing all Christians. Many are good people who live out their faith righteously. Sadly, the bad fruit can turn a person away from the whole tree. Please know that I’m not bashing the good while I acknowledge the bad here.
And, again, not all Christians are like this. Not everybody does these things. No one is perfect. Nevertheless, a lot of these bad behaviors/perspectives are more common than we care to admit. They can also do more spiritual damage to a person than we care to admit. The way we treat people matters. We represent Christ. We represent our churches. We have the power to build up and we have the power to destroy. Be thoughtful about your messages and your communication techniques.
Though I am absolutely a believer in Jesus and an imperfect follower covered by His perfect grace, there are often times Christians remind me why I was atheist. I always see both sides. I see the Christian side of things because I am Christian. I see the non-Christian side of things because I was once among that crowd. I’m going to share here the things I see going on in Christian circles that turn people away from God. I hope that Christians will consider these things without offense and give consideration to how they come across, particularly to non-believers.
I've repeatedly encountered all of these issues in the bullet points above. This is my experience. I've also experienced loving Christians. I've experienced Christians who are welcoming, inviting, friendly, truly kind, compassionate, patient, and have the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. Those experiences matter too . . . but I'd be lying if I said the issues in the bullet points above didn't affect my Christian walk.
It is not easy to be Christian. It is downright difficult to be Christian. Can I be honest? It’s actually easier to be atheist – well, socially. The hard thing about being Christian is not the challenges of following Jesus, although it can be rough to pick up your cross (your sacrifice) and follow in His ways. The hardest part of being Christian is not the self-discipline of denying your flesh (or worldly desires). The hardest part of being Christian is being among the Christians in the bullet points above. Those Christians – those churchy religious folk who mistreat others – push me away from church and Christian circles . . . but they can’t push me away from God himself.
Despite all this, I came to know Jesus and felt compelled to follow Him. Nearly 14 years later, I never lost my faith. I am His. He is mine. And I love God with the depths of my heart. My journey to him may not be your typical way to go about it, but my roots in him are firm. I will not let go; neither will he.
Michelle McCauley Dohrman
This is a really good and helpful article.
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