Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Atheists, Agnostics, Believers

Atheists are pessimistic Agnostics. Deep down they are not sure (Agnostic), but they'd hate to be made a fool of by believing the wrong thing. So they claim to not believe at all. It's a buffer against being put down. Maybe they have had great trials and sadness in their lives and cannot believe that a God would allow that. They need your compassion and understanding, help and encouragement. They need to know of any change that being a believer has made in your life. Don't try to make them a believer in one big step. If they become an Agnostic, they are on headed in the right direction. Don't give up on them.

Agnostics really amount to pessimistic believers. They want to believe, but cannot bring themselves to for one reason or another. Perhaps they could become a believer by seeing your faith in action and by your compassion toward their own concerns and needs. Maybe sharing a bit of why you are a believer would help. Just don't get too "preachy" or you'll turn them off.

Believers may be strong or weak in the faith. Those who declare they are new believers may really be optimistic Agnostics. So, as Paul cautions (Romans 14), beware of tempting those weaker in the faith. Encourage the faith of new believers, offer friendship, compassion, and understanding. Include them in your Sunday Schools, but try not to swamp them with detailed Bible study right away. Give them time to grow. Water that growth with agape love. Be available to talk with other believers about their faith challenges and life's trials.