As Alex N. was reading Romans, 2 young men walked up and listened for a few minutes. One of them told the other, “If I was sober I would make him cry!” Although it might not seem like it, that was an invitation for a conversation. I try to never interrupt when anyone is listening to the preacher but at that point I knew he was finished listening so I walked up and asked, “how would you do that?”
It’s important to note, when someone makes an accusation against God or His word, you shouldn’t just accept it, but should challenge the accuser to put forth his evidence. It’s just like in court, it is the accuser’s responsibility to prove guilt not the other way around, so ask them for their evidence. Many times they are only regurgitating what they have read online or maybe in a book and do not really have anything to offer, but Tim actually had evidence, or so he thought. Here it is: “I would point out all of the contradictions in the Bible.” Being a pretty vague and broad accusation I attempted to get him to narrow it down and asked, “which one?”
(I used to be leery of asking such questions because I was afraid they might have something that I couldn’t answer but not anymore because while it is nice to have solid answers, the arguments are often very weak and in the end we’re not out to win arguments anyway, but the question at least keeps the conversation going.)
Tim’s contradiction argument was that the Old testament was all about killing and destruction while the New Testament was all about love and acceptance. I asked him if he had ever read the sermon on the mount. He assured me he had so I asked him if he was certain the New Testament was only about love and acceptance. He assured me it was. Although that isn’t true, we will move on, as did our conversation. We discussed some other issues that he used as “reasons” to not believe, and finally I just asked him if he was a Christian. He told me he was agnostic. That says more about this young man than what we might think. While a person who claims to be an atheist is being somewhat illogical, because you would have to be omniscient and omnipresent yourself to know God did not exist with certainty, an agnostic admits that they are simply unsure if God exists, which makes the conversation a little easier.
This guy was kind of snotty when we first began to talk but God used an unlikely part of my life to switch this conversation to a more pleasant tone. He mentioned something about someone he knew that had served in the military so I shared with him, which I usually do not when out witnessing, that I was an Army veteran. He immediately apologized for offending me, shook my hand and thanked me for my service. I assured him he had not offended me and told him I appreciated his thanks, and we continued with the conversation, at a much friendlier and respectful gate.
Sometimes you have to talk for a while before you get to the root of the problem. While Tim, as many do, argued the Bible contradicted itself and other common accusations, these often are only things they have read that seem to support their real issues, so they throw them out there as a defense. Tim’s real problem was with God sending people to hell for punishment. He seemed to have this problem because he had a very high view of people. He had not truly grasped the concept of sin and the seriousness of it. I walked him through a couple of analogies (thank you Ray Comfort) I had learned years ago to help illustrate the condition of man and the holiness of God.
I first took him to the human courtroom. I posed the hypothetical situation where he was going 75 miles per hour down West Clayton street, where we were standing, and was rightfully arrested for doing so. He agreed the police would be just in arresting him. We went to the courtroom scene where as he stood before the judge, he was given his punishment of $10,000 or jail time. I asked him if the judge would be considered a good judge if he just let him go without punishing him. Tim agreed that that judge would not be a good judge but a corrupt judge. Then we went back to the heavenly courtroom and I asked Tim if God would be a good God if he just let lawbreakers go unpunished. He conceded the point.
Although Tim had grasped the judge thing, I wasn’t sure he saw the sinfulness of sin so I took him on another hypothetical journey of killing. I offered the scenario where I had stomped one of the Athens mascots, killin it. No! Not UGA the bulldog, but one of those huge roach bugs they have there. I surmised that nothing would happen to me for killing the roach bug, and he agreed. Then I put forth a scenario where I might kill a homeless man, which would probably get me jail time for some years, and he again agreed. Then I asked him what would happen to me if I went to the White House and killed the president. He agreed that I would more than likely be put to death.
The point is this. It was the same crime, every time, but the punishment was different for each scenario. Why? It was all based on who I committed the crime against and even though we may not consider a lie that big of a deal, to God it is a very big deal because He is perfectly holy and requires holiness. I attempted to help him see that God sees things differently than humans and just because we think something isn’t a big deal to God, doesn’t mean it isn’t.
Tim did not fall down, repent and place his trust in Christ but he did have a better understanding of who we are, who God is, and how God sees sin. We talked for a few more minutes and then he said he needed to go. The last thing I said to him was, “Eternity is a long time, make sure you have the right answer for it!” I gave him a tract and my contact info and he went on his way. His real name isn’t Tim but since I did not get his permission to write about him, I changed his name, so please pray for the man I call Tim!
Until All Hear!