Dealing with Unbelievers

Le sigh.

We as Christians know that God, the Bible, and all things Christian are not necessarily popular in today’s American society. We need to prepare ourselves each and every day as we head out into this Satan-filled, Satan-ruled world to deal with unbelievers (and I say that to mean people who don’t believe in Jesus, of course. They believe in SOMETHING, just not Jesus).

I am not employed outside the home, but when I do leave the house to go to the grocery store, drop my son off at school, go to church, etc., there are a few things I have tried to incorporate in my morning ritual with the full understanding that at any given point in the day I might come in contact with an unbeliever. The Bible tells us in Ephesians that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (6:12, NIV). Because of this, before we leave the house, we ought to make sure we are girded in the “full armor of Christ”: “so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (6:13-17).

Well, the day of evil has already arrived in a sense. We see the world is getting more wicked and the Word of Truth is being rejected and replaced by prosperity gospel and other feel-good false doctrine. The depravity of man knows no bounds. Each day I am more and more shocked by some of the videos I see (some I don’t watch, but I see thumbnails and descriptions of certain acts that are absolutely disgusting–fight videos, videos of abominable sexual acts, etc), and I have to pray right then not for myself, but for the world and my poor babies. I sometimes regret bringing them into this mess of a world.

I understand that there is more to this major apostasy than just the workings of the devil and his minions. Christian hypocrisy is staggering. I’ve heard people talk of walking into a church and being turned completely off by the people inside it. Either they were not met at the door with a friendly greeting, or were asked personal information such as how much they were giving for the offering, or they were subjected to an unsavory preacher. (Those are the reasons behind my writing. To expose Christian hypocrisy in the church so that we might get it right and get people inside).

So, as Christians we have our work cut out for us. We have Satan, who stays busy, and then we have other Christians bringing our reputation, and hence, our ability to witness, to curb-level. Dealing with unbelievers isn’t easy. Especially when they are within your family.

Historically, at least in terms of recent history, Black people have strongly identified as Christian. That is dropping (per a report prepared by the Pew Research Center, the number of individuals of ALL races who report being Christian is on the decline: http://www.pewforum.org/2015/05/12/americas-changing-religious-landscape/). Personally, I have encountered a significant number of young Black people, particularly men, who either claim to be Agnostic or are say they are Muslim (although the ones who claim to be Muslim seem to live by a very loose interpretation of the faith). When I interact with them, I find their beliefs and, more importantly, their ANGER against Christianity to be a hard walnut to crack.

Not saying I don’t understand. I do. These young people, like myself, feel BETRAYED when we grow up and then find out, after going from kindergarten to twelfth grade, that African-Americans did, in fact, contribute quite a bit to the landscape of America OTHER than just slavery, MLK, and Rosa Parks. I would like for White people to try to understand how disheartening it is to go through twelve full years of education being told subliminally that people who look like you haven’t accomplished ANYTHING notable, and those who did were just exceptional people. We get the shortest month of the year to study our rich history and even then, we are exposed only to certain individuals. MLK. Rosa Parks. Frederick Douglass. Sojourner Truth. Harriet Tubman.

Until I got to to college, taking a class I had to PAY for, did I begin to learn the full extent of our history. America would be content to have us all believe that before we were brought over here as slaves, we were barbarians and savages running naked around Africa mumbling monosyllabic utterances to each other. Not the case. African societies had structure. They had political systems. They were educated in mathematics and science. They were skilled at making items using the many natural resources stored by the African land. Egyptian society in particular was very progressive. We were not RESCUED from barbarianism like America would have us to believe. Yes, there were inter-tribal conflicts and wars, but the true barbarianism did not begin until a group of people decided they had the right to kidnap another group of people from their native land, separate them from their families thus destroying their societies, all for profit. THAT IS BARBARIC. Africans are typically depicted as wearing very little clothing. Umm, probably because it’s hot???????

That is step one in producing a generation of weary young Black people, but it is the most damaging. Why? Well, in addition to the studies that have confirmed over and over that Black students are treated differently than others–disciplined more harshly, labeled a disciplinary problem when there might be other issues, less likely to be pushed toward more challenging schoolwork–being told from a young age that you really don’t come from much and in hundreds of years your people haven’t come far is a bit of a dream-killer. Where is your pride going to come from? Then you have institutional racism in place to where even if you do make achievements they may be overlooked, or you have to be exceptional, beyond exceptional, to even be considered average? Do people understand how difficult that is? It gives you a poor start. It is difficult to undo beliefs that have been imparted in a person since childhood.

When we get older and find out the truth, yes it makes us angry. It makes us angry that people thought so little of us that they restricted our history not only from US, but from everyone. White people need to know Black history just as much as we do. If you wonder why, look NO further to how divided America is today. Our government has become masters of divisiveness. Black versus White, natural citizen versus foreign-born, rich versus poor. We don’t understand each other, and that is where the fear and hatred come in. But I digress.

A lot of these disillusioned young Black people circulate memes asking why Black people continue to worship the God of their oppressor. Often times those memes include a picture of White Jesus. I have multiple problems with that:

  1. I thought by now that the myth that Jesus had blond hair and blue eyes had been thoroughly debunked.
  2. Even if He did, I wouldn’t care. What He DID when HE died on the cross was more important to me than how He looked. But these people are against anything that has historically been used by White people to oppress. What could be more oppressing than having a White guy be the Lord of your life??
  3. Just because slavemasters used Christianity in the process of oppressing Black people, that does not mean that God intended for that to happen or condoned it. It is my belief that even if Black people had not been taught Christianity once we got to America, that God would have gotten it to us some other way–by missionaries, just like there were in every other corner of the world.

The problem is, even when I present these individuals with facts, they don’t listen. They argue. They ridicule. Here is an example of another meme (and why the heck are people so quick to believe MEMES over actual RESEARCH and EDUCATION???????) that I responded to. I may have posted this before, and I apologize in advance for the F bomb:

star-trek-wtf-how-the-fuck-did-jesus-find-guys-named-peter-john-james-matthew-andrew-phillip-thomas-

I informed the poster that those were NOT the disciples’ real names, that those were English translations, if you will, and that even Jesus’ name is not “Jesus” because there was no “J” sound. His name is actually Yeshua. As for the others:

Simon (Peter & the Zealot) = Shimon

John = Yochanon

James (brother of John, son of Zebedee & son of Alphaeus)= Yakov (Jacob)

Bartholomew = Bar-Talmai

Matthew = Maatiyahu

Thomas = Tau’ma

Thaddeus = Theudas or a variant of Yehuda

Andrew & Phillip = names are thought to have derived from Greek names Andreas & Filippos

Judas Iscariot = Yehuda

The poster responded within seconds, which let me know that he didn’t even bother to research my response. The response was one of disbelief and perhaps a trace of scorn.

After a few posts of back and forth I stopped responding, as I usually do in those cases. Why? Because the conversation was going absolutely nowhere. And it won’t. I have decided I am no longer going to entertain those types of posts. Here is what I think when it comes to dealing with unbelievers.

First, we have to realize that they are always going to be among us and that is a part of God’s plan. The Bible tells us all will not be a part of the elect, those of us who have been predestined to salvation. The entire concept of an elect is absolutely fascinating to me. God could have made us ALL a part of the elect, right? But why would He? That pesky free will comes into play here. God definitely could have designed us to love Him, just like a person can program a robot to do whatever he or she wants. But why would He do that? Do you want people to love you because they have to or because they want to?

Say you own a very profitable company. A quarter of your employees are hard-working and loyal, the other 75% are not. If you decide to reward your employees with an all-expenses paid trip to the best place in the world, are you going to take everyone or just the employees that were good to you? If you took the bad performers too, what would that tell the good ones?? That their good works were in vain? That they can act just like the bad performers and still reap the same rewards??

The concept of the elect is not an example of God being unjust. On the contrary, it is an example of Him doing what is fair and what is right.

In the Bible, whenever God executed judgment against people, a remnant always remained. These remnant were righteous people who were spared so that they might continue on in the Lord. The remnant were there to remind other survivors and future generations of what happened when a nation disobeyed God. The elect now have the responsibility to not only educate the world about God, but to SHOW God in our everyday lives. That’s why we have been elected. To witness to others.

These days, people often bristle at the very mention of Jesus. Witnessing has to be done prayerfully. Any time we are headed into Jesus territory with an unbeliever, we need to pray first. It is best if we find some common ground with the person first. As a matter of fact, let me back up a bit. Before we engage with ANYONE, we need to be secure and steadfast in our own faith. We have to have knowledge–that comes from Bible study and prayer. We can’t teach others what we don’t know. While none of us will ever be fully versed in all things Bible, there are some basic understandings we all ought to have. In addition to that, personal testimony is extremely effective. No one can take from you something you have personally experienced. If God brought you through addiction, for example, don’t be ashamed of having been a former addict. Rejoice in your triumph over addiction and rejoice in your newfound purpose: As a FORMER addict, you can now help people in their recovery process AND use your experience to bring others to Christ.

Despite how foolish another person’s beliefs may be to you, don’t be rude or condescending. If you make a person feel stupid, are they going to receive anything you say well? Nope. It also doesn’t help to try to pretend that you are perfect.

But at the end of the day, some people just won’t believe. It is only your job to present the Gospel to them. They make the decision whether or not to receive. Although the Bible tells us we are to choose our friends wisely, as we don’t want to open ourselves up to negative influences even if we are strong in the faith (although we can find common ground with people–meaning we might find an unbeliever who shares our passion for a particular hobby or sports team, for example, the Word says in 2 Corinthians 6:14 “what partnership does righteousness have with lawlessness?”), it is okay for us to have friendships with unbelievers. However, 2 Cor. 6:14 also says we should not become unequally yoked and develop intimate relationships with them. We should limit our time with them because they don’t have that “fruit of the Spirit” that we believers have.

fruit of the spirit

THAT is the impression I get when I deal with some of the unbelievers I come in contact with. They have treated me with impatience, disdain and self-control. They call me intolerant while refusing to give heed to my words, yet I am expected to listen to THEM as they malign MY beliefs.

thats not how this works

Do not argue with those who are steadfast in their disbelief. 1 Timothy 4:7a tells readers not to argue “over foolish ideas and silly myths and legends”. 2 Timothy 23-26 says “But reject foolish and ignorant controversies, because you know they breed fights. And the Lord’s slave must not be a fighter but kind toward all, an apt teacher, patient, correcting opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance and then knowledge of the truth and they will come to their senses and escape the devil’s trap where they are held captive to do his will”.

Arguing solves nothing. Once a conversation has reached a fevered pitch, the parties are no longer LISTENING to each other–they are too busy trying to prove themselves right. The reason why I can argue no more is because after going back and forth with a brick wall, my gentleness begins to fade, and then the discussion heads toward a fight. Once I find my patience diminishing and my irritation skyrocketing, it is time to wrap it up. I have come plenty far in terms of my temper, but it’s definitely still there, and the On switch usually flips when someone insults Jesus or my intelligence. Before it gets there, I will be the bigger person and disengage. From then on, all I can do is pray for the person and hope that I have at least planted a seed and that in the future, that person may come out of spiritual blindness and accept Jesus.

So that is my take on dealing with unbelievers. First have yourself in order. Be prayed up and studied up. Understand that there is some background or context that has led to a person’s disbelief (for the young Black people I spoke of, their background is the anger toward having their history whitewashed. Other people might have come from a family that prescribed to a different religion).  Try to find some common ground with them. Be kind, but not too kind–don’t water down the Word to appease them. If you find that the person is not receiving your truth, end the discussion. Remove yourself from their company. Pray for them.

And thank God for your own spiritual enlightenment.

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