Have you had the same experience I have had when talking to people about God who say they don’t believe in Him? I have found that they first get very edgy, and most of the time they will tell me they don’t want to talk about God, and sometimes they even get downright rude about it and verbally attack me as weak and foolish because I do believe.
Isn’t it strange? If you don’t believe in God, why be so defensive because I do? Why get stressed out and angry that someone else does believe? If I said my favorite baseball team was better than yours, you would argue for hours with all the stats and achievements of your team and it’s stars. You would argue all about how well the team works, it’s accomplishments, and maybe you would attack some of the people on my team, but mostly it’s all about why you love your team.
Yet when I tell you I believe in God, you attack me, you attack God, the bible, et.al.. But do you tell me why you don’t believe? Not a chance. The best I get is, “I just don’t believe, that’s all.”
So, again I ask, if you don’t believe, why get so hot about it?
The answer is simple and the non-believer (alleged, that is) will never admit why: it’s because, deep-down, they do believe. They are scared that God does exist, that what He says is true, that they are sinners, that what they have been told about God being the final judge and about Sheol (hell) is all true. They don’t want to go to hell, and they don’t want to change how they live, so they just stick their head in the sand and say it doesn’t exist.
Then, like someone putting ice down their back, we come along telling them about how God has shown Himself to be real and to exist through the many ways He has acted in our lives, and giving not just our testimony but the testimony of many others we have heard and seen. The truth about God is an attack against their fantasy, their protective wall that blocks out the truth of their sinfulness, lack of control, and the hopelessness of the fact that they are headed for destruction.
When you think about it, no wonder they attack us: professing our belief in God, or any reference to God that so much as implies He might exist, is a direct attack against their protective wall of lies, so it is only natural they would defend themselves by attacking us back.
These are the people living in the dark to whom we are supposed to be a light. The problem is when we start to show that light it hurts their eyes and makes them see, as the little child called out from the crowd, “But the Emperor has no clothes on!”
And they know they are the Emperor.
When we strip bare their lies and ignorance, what can they do other than attack us? In truth, we are attacking them and their beliefs by professing our love and commitment to God. Not that we do it on purpose, but from their point of view that’s exactly what we are doing. And so many Believers who try to minister to people don’t have the slightest idea of how to make an argument or sell anything, and they make it even harder for spiritually mature ministers to talk to these people. And yes, we are selling God. We are trying to get the world to invest in it’s own salvation when it rejects the idea that there is any need for salvation.
People only believe half of what you say, but they believe everything that they say. If you want to be a light to those in the darkness, you will never succeed by telling them how dark they are. You need to get them to tell you how dark they are. You need to get them to realize their system of beliefs, which is (basically) not to believe, is not justified. They won’t believe what you tell them so you need to get them to say it, themselves.
“How the heck can I do that?”, you may ask (I just did!): you do it by asking questions. Don’t tell them why you believe in God, ask them why they don’t. And when you get the answers, which are always (trust me, they always are) weak and unsupported by much more than “just because “, you keep asking why. For instance:
“I know why I believe in God, would you tell me why you don’t?”
“I just don’t.”
“Then if I understand you correctly, you are saying you don’t believe in God because you don’t want to?”
“Yes. I have the right to my opinion, don’t I?”
“Absolutely, everyone does. So, then, you don’t believe pretty much because you choose not to, right?”
“Okay, so if you don’t believe because you choose not to, then God very well could exist, but you choose to reject that idea for yourself.”
“Yes, that’s it.”
“So you say God doesn’t exist but only because you don’t want to believe, which means you have no proof that God doesn’t exist. I have no proof that He does, so when it comes dowm to it, you say He doesn’t and I say He does, but neither of us can prove our point. Do you agree?”
That puts us on equal footing, and the next step is to ask:
“If we both believe just because we choose to, doesn’t it make more sense to believe in something that is wonderful and has hope for the future than something that has no hope and can lead to nothing but living your whole life just to die?”
That’s scripted, of course, and a real conversation may not take that exact course, but I hope you get the idea. We need to show that their rejection of the existence of God is not based on anything other than opinion, and opinions should be based on facts, yet there aren’t any. Just as we cannot prove, scientifically, that God does exist, they can’t prove He doesn’t. And accepting that there is a chance God does exist puts a little hole in their protective wall.
Once they admit their reason for not believing is based only on their choice not to believe, then you can offer, gently, why you do believe. One or two examples, something that made you absolutely certain God exists.
As for me, I tell how I felt His Ruach (Spirit) literally coming into my body when it happened. I had a totally physical and real-life experience. I have seen answers to prayers that are hard to explain away. I have heard the testimony of many people of miraculous events, healings, release from addictions, all very hard to explain away as just coincidence.
You can’t tell someone what they should believe, but you can tell them why you do. First, though, you have to get them to see their own reasons as weak and unsupported. And that has to be done patiently, gently and compassionately.
In the sales world, we learn that you never sell the quality of the steak: you sell the sizzle! Looking at a steak, reading the nutritional value, getting a good deal- none of that is why people buy a steak. They buy a steak because it tastes great and even more, because it sounds and smells absolutely wonderful when it is cooking. Just picture a steak on the grill, the browning of the fat as it is gently melting, the flames coming up around the edges, the aroma of the steak as it broils….
That’s what sells the steak- not how good it is, but how good it makes you feel.
God is good (all the time) and we love Him for who and what He is as much as what He has done for us. Well, maybe more for what He has done for us. That is why we need to get people who don’t believe to realize that their belief system has done absolutely nothing for them except suck out all the hope they could ever have in their life, and leave no hope for anything better after this life.
That is the selling point, that is what you need to bring them to realize: they choose to have no hope for no reason other than that’s what they choose. We choose to have hope in the resurrection and eternal joy, and if we want to believe that for no other reason that that’s what we choose to believe, then our belief that God exists is just as justified as their belief He doesn’t exist.
So the question is now, “Why would anyone choose to have no hope for anything wonderful in their life?”
If they don’t have a snappy comeback for that one, you are on your way to saving a soul.