Friday, March 13, 2009

You shall be my witnesses

I just had an interesting conversation with my 16 year old. Valerie was telling me about a website she had visited in which a young man was giving all the reasons he considers himself an atheist. He cited verses from Leviticus that he thinks are absurd—prohibitions about eating shrimp and instruction to stone homosexuals. In the end, he stated that he believes God is a man-made concept.

My daughter commented on his viewpoints, to which he replied defensively. This is the conclusion she came to: though her desire is to engage in an exchange that would ultimately and ideally end in his being convinced of the truth of God, it is pointless to argue. Pretty mature conclusion, I think. “Nothing I say will convince him, and nothing he says will convince me.” She’s right.

So how are we—who believe in a God who loved us enough to take on the human form in order to restore us to his image—to convey this to those who don’t believe? Logic and experience tell us arguments don’t work. History confirms that legislated belief is no belief at all. “The Bible tells me so” only makes a difference if there is a mutually-agreed-upon premise that the Bible is true.

Still, Jesus did say we are to be witnesses. Exactly—witnesses. In a courtroom, a witness gives an account of what he has seen or experienced. He does not have to feel pressured to prove anything or declare judgment. He is neither judge nor jury. He just gives a true account from his perspective. Jesus never told us to convince people, provide indisputable proof, or argue his existence. He just said, “You shall be my witnesses.”

That I can do!


  1. Very Nice Kate! & very true. In Fact, Not just to an atheist but even to some Christians is it hard to convince someone that you know what the truth is. Although, sometimes it may be harder to convince the Christians....But won't the atheist feel dumb when he does have the "God" now that we are all praying for him. :)

  2. Instead of reading my Bible this morning during a quiet spell, I turned on my computer and checked emails. Kate, your blog announcement led me to this, and I am grateful for the reminder to be a witness to the truth. And, I am reminded that I need to be in the truth of God's Word so I can continue to grow as a greater witness. Thanks for this timely word! Really appreciate it.

  3. It really is about relationships and not debates. In a culture in which all too often relationships are described as being "complicated" there is a need for something fresh. I think Christ Followers should be leading the way in building friendships with those who have yet to follow Christ that are built on trust and common ground. Earn the right to tell your story of God's work in your life. People will debate you if they think you are trying to argue a point. People will back away from you if they think you are making them your "Jesus project." But people will listen to your story because you have become their friend.

  4. I've heard it said that beliefs are only thoughts that we have rehearsed many times. Could this be why "belief," "religion" and "dogma" are unconvincing to people? Is, perhaps, the spiritual life not made of dogma, religion or even belief? It’s noteworthy that these three words don’t appear in the Gospels. Perhaps the spiritual life is merely about relationships with persons; perhaps it is simply a mystery that provides a knowing beyond belief. Perhaps that mere simplicity makes all the difference.

  5. I have had this situation happen several times. People do not understand how I can follow God when they feel there is no proof of Him. I reply, I have blind faith. When they don't hear me, I just keep repeating, I have blind faith. I simply believe because I believe. My life is a reflection of nothing but divine interventions. There is no way I could have ever overcome the obsticles I had (of my own doing, I will confess) and get to the other side like I have.


  6. what's with Valerie and Leviticus all the time, geez ;)