Now this title may seem strange to you but it stunned me for a moment as it ran through my mind. It was the thought I had after my friend and I discussed another hot button topic in the media. As our friendship tentatively began about six years ago, we both took notice of each other’s worldview as we shared our thoughts about the founding of our nation, abortion, the Bible, premarital sex, politics, God, marriage, public displays of religious beliefs and whatever else was impossible to ignore in the media.
1. My atheistic friend helped me learn to exercise my love for God with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength.
This phrase is commanded or referred to 9 times in the scriptures. Without this commandment to love God first, I would not be able to love myself or my friend properly and let me just say that sometimes it took A LOT of strength and self-control to listen and engage a differing non-biblical point of view. For me to continue our conversations through the years (sometimes through mere minutes) I had to recall that it wasn’t about me but that my love for God should spur me on to explain the scriptures as Jesus did in Luke 24:27 and reason and persuade as Paul did in Acts 18:4 and so many others. Paul also reminded us in Galatians 5:14 that “the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There were many times my friend was rude, brash, and insensitive to others to the point that our peers would ostracize her, to some degree, understandably. I would want to do the same and had to force myself to engage at times, failed at times, prayed, quoted variations of Matt 22:39 and thought of myself as God’s vessel.
2. This friendship helped me learn to be a better vessel for Christ.
2 Timothy 2:21 says that I can be “a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” Because my friend was very analytical and logical but had been deeply scarred by those she considered Christians, her bitterness and loathing for God and Christians was obvious at times. I remember her pointedly asking me about abortion,
“So who would God want to survive the mother or the baby?!?!”
(pausing and mentally saying a prayer for wisdom)
“Both. God values both of their lives.”
“Oh. I had never heard that answer before usually someone says one or the other.”
So often others had grossly misrepresented Christ and the word of God that she misunderstood them both. As a good friend who knew my interests, she often asked about what I was teaching the twos and threes in Bible class or VBS and I would have the privilege of sharing simple Bible accounts with her. 2 Timothy 2:15 says to “be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” because when we don’t, we have a self-serving mess and people turn away from God.
3. My atheistic friend helped improve my walk with Jesus in her example of boldness
In spite of being crass at times, she was unapologetically herself and contended for her beliefs. Whether she held a viewpoint in solitude or part of a group it did not matter, she was not phased. I would be amazed and think how timid I could be with others, even though “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). I also didn’t want to be a coward lumped in the same pile as unbelievers and murderers (Rev. 21:8) but some days I struggled. I prayed to God to help me not be like the one talent man: lazy and wicked (Matt. 25:26). She helped me see how much more I needed to be like Paul and “not be put to shame in anything, but with all boldness, [let Christ] be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” (Phil.1:20).
All in all, God created us to be lights in this dark world and to live among sinful people so that we may teach His truth, as well as learn a thing or two ourselves. If others before us withdrew from the world, how many of us would be Christians today? I wouldn’t.
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“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.” -1 Corinthians 5:9-10
by Bridget Cook
Bridget Cook is a faithful Christian woman who is living life simply and passionately. She enjoys serving the Lord by serving others in any way she can. She has blips of time where she enjoys writing but mostly you will find her reading. She thoroughly enjoys being silly with her niece and nephew and currently resides in Orlando, FL where she works with the Concord St. congregation.
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