Letter to a Non-Believer

Oh, dearly beloved,

I don’t know where you come from or what you’ve been through, but if, in your kindness, you will permit me, I’d like to speak with you for a moment. I know that there are all kinds of reasons for a person’s unbelief, but as many as there are, I also know that there are just as many reasons for us to open our hearts.

Do you trust in science and think it foolish to believe in the existence of a higher power? I can understand why. It’s hard for us to wrap our minds around the supernatural, and the power of suggestion can be quite strong. None of us want to be fooled into believing a lie, and we certainly don’t want our lives to be led by one. Yet, throughout the course of our history, men of science have proven to be among the most spiritual people who have ever lived. They have come to understand that science and spirituality never have to stand opposed to each other, but are rather undeniably linked. It’s easy for most of us to take for granted the intricacy of our world and the careful precision with which everything had to come together in order to make life possible for us. But for those who devote their lives to studying it, there is often no room to doubt that there had to be a creator—that this couldn’t have just happened. It’s hard for us to wrap our minds around the supernatural, but what if life itself is the supernatural? What if science is just God’s way of letting us in on His secrets? It seems to be a misconception among Christians that true faith must be blind faith. God doesn’t like us to test Him at our leisure, but Jesus performed miracles so that people would know who He was. He deemed it necessary to prove Himself so that they would believe. And even non-believers have attested to His existence—that He lived and died, and that His body mysteriously vanished in the way the Bible claims.

Have you suffered much? I feel compassion for you because I’m frightened to suffer. It’s probably the thing I’m most afraid of in this world, and for those who have endured it most, I have an overwhelming sense of respect, awe, and love. Please, know that, and also know that God has suffered with you. I know that words such as those can seem empty and even evoke anger within your heart. In your pain, you see this image of an all-powerful being who could help you if he wanted to, but, for whatever reason, chooses to do nothing. It’s better for you to believe that God doesn’t exist at all than to believe that He is so indifferent. Part of what makes Christianity so special is the idea that God willed Himself to become human. Omnipresent, all-powerful, and everlasting as He was, He bound Himself in our mortality so that He could be close to us—so that He could understand us in a way that would fortify our bond with Him. For thirty-three years, our Creator lived as a human being. He knew what it felt like to be hungry and cold and tired and heartbroken and scared, and everything else we feel. He allowed Himself to be born into one of the harshest environments that anyone could’ve been born into—and as a peasant who was certainly much more impoverished than I have ever been. Then, he ultimately allowed Himself to be tortured. Made fun of. Spat upon. Beaten. Practically torn apart to within an inch of His life. Forced to carry the instrument of His own execution, to find relief only in reaching the place where he would die. Finally, after being subjected to this, He allowed Himself to be crucified. He allowed His executioners—whom He, Himself, had created—to brutally drive nails the size of railroad spikes through His wrists and feet. Slowly suffocating, He remained for hours, having to use the nails to push Himself up each time He needed to breathe. It was only a matter of time before He would find Himself too exhausted to go on. Then, He, God—the Creator of light and life—submitted to a dark and human death. I don’t give detail to these things in order to trivialize your own suffering. I’m just saying that the idea that God is distant and indifferent to your suffering couldn’t be further from the truth. He’s lived through it. He’s died through it. And he’s done so because He loves you. He’s done so because it is never His will for you to suffer. You have suffered because our world is fallen. Our hearts are fallen, and though it grieves Him, He does not want to control any of us against our will. He allows evil because it’s what we choose, but He counts your tears, and He promises that someday He will make all things new. He loves you, and He will not allow you to suffer anything beyond that which He, Himself has suffered. He loves you, and whatever you suffer, you may rest assured in knowing that He is there—holding you.

Have you sinned? So have we all. Ever since Eden, sin has been in us. From the moment of our conception, it spirals itself into the very fabric of who we are, and there is nothing we can do about it. One of the other great misconceptions of Christianity is that we have to follow God’s rules in order to be allowed into heaven. Yes, God has rules. And yes, He wants us to follow them. But he knows that we can’t—not really. When Adam and Eve made the choice to disobey God for the first time, it put a chasm between God and humanity, rendering us all imperfect, fallen, and broken creatures who can never be worthy of heaven. That’s why God came to us. In spite of the damage we’d done and the hurt we’d caused Him, He wanted to be with us. He wanted to make His home with us and to bring us home to Him. Heaven is a gift we do not deserve, no matter how upstanding our lives are, and we can’t earn it. We can only receive it. All He truly asks in return is love. He wants us to love Him more than anything else. He wants us to love Him with the same unbridled passion with which He has always loved us. And in loving Him this way, submitting to His desires can become second-nature to us. Our love for Him will make us want to sacrifice our selfishness, not because we’re afraid of what he’ll do if we sin against Him, but because we love Him so much that we’re willing to do anything to make Him happy. That’s really all it is. That’s all He wants. He loves you with all His heart, and He wants you to accept His love. He wants you to accept His sacrifice on your behalf, and He wants you to love Him in return. Don’t treat Him as though He’s just some annoying voice in your head making you feel guilty about something you shouldn’t be doing. Treat Him as though He’s your greatest Lover, who deserves nothing less than your undying fidelity and devotion—because that’s exactly what He is. And when we deny Him, all we’re really doing is denying ourselves of the most profound and unfathomable love we’ll ever know.

Have you been taught to serve another god? I know that there are many theological constructs to explore in this world, and I don’t pretend to be an expert on any of them, but if this is where you are, then let me ask rather than telling: Does he love you? Has he died for you so that you can have life, or does he ask you die and end life for him? Are you allowed to experience intimacy with him, so much that your body is the temple where he dwells, or does he keep you at a distance? Does he want any kind of relationship with you at all, or do you exist merely to do his bidding while he sits in judgment in some far away place? Does the thought of him make you feel anything? Is he a living, breathing person just as you are, or is he more of a fairytale being whom you only call upon when you need a wish to be granted? Is your worship of him motivated by love, or is it only fear? Another misconception I hear a lot is that all religions are essentially the same. And on the surface, that may, at first, appear to be true. Many of the guidelines and proverbs for how to live a good life might, essentially, be the same, but the underlying motivation for doing so is often very different from spirituality to spirituality. In my heart of hearts, I know that there is nothing like Christianity. There is no story more touching—no idea more hauntingly beautiful—than that which is presented to us in regard to Jesus of Nazareth. If you open yourself to it, it can capture your heart, and your life will never be the same. The central point that you should know is that my God loves you passionately.



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