Saturday, March 17, 2007

A Message From An Atheist

As most folks that know me know, I have a few passions in life, a lot of interests but only a few passions. Some of those include:I love issues of discussion centering on faith, and/or politics.I love social issues, especially centered on the poor, needy, abused, homeless, inner city struggles, gangs, and drugs.I love the arts and their relevance, an example would be movies, books, music, and so forth. Then seeing the deeper meanings of those things. I love most sports, but especially wrestling.Now it is on the last issue that I will address the blog today, on of all things centered on wrestling.Some may know, some not, but I have been heavily involved with the sport of wrestling for some 11 years now. It all started with having the wrestling coach drive the bus for me when I was the head soccer coach at North Hendersonville High School in Hendersonville North Carolina. Long story made short, he kept telling me that I needed to get my son involved in the sport, when finding out we were moving to Oklahoma he insisted. We did, he did, and now the rest is history.For the last 11 years I have been coaching my son and other youth. For the last two years I have started officiating for kids, high school, and national events, including all styles of wrestling made popular in America. I have started a real wrestling group on YouTube which has made national and international news for its growth and I have organized the Kansas National Team, which has gone to various events around the Midwest.I am also involved in a couple of discussion groups that centers on wresting. Those groups, and are groups that involve wrestlers and wrestling fans from around the globe. I am a moderator for both web sites, and as usual, rather outspoken. I realize those groups are about wrestling, not religion or politics. Therefore, I choose to stay, as much as possible, out of the discussions centering around religion and politics. It isnt that Im not willing to share my faith, I am, but it has to be in what I feel is its proper place. I have found that by letting my life be an example, many can, and do, hear a message through my life example. The St. Francis quote, Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words, has come to
have a special place in my heart and life.

I often find myself in the middle of conversations I dont necessarily want to be in, I find myself being asked questions where I feel an obligation to answer. I try to answer most of them in an appropriate way, one on one or after a direct question, and off a public forum. I recall that those forums are not intended for religious purposes, I still find myself on occasion responding to a public question or request in a public way. Today is an example of one of those requests.Recently myself and another forum poster on the wrestling forum engaged in a discussion about the movie United 93. Much of that conversation wasnt done in a congenial way, instead it involved confrontation, which, I am okay with, but try to avoid when possible. Thankfully the poster, known as Big, an Atheist originally from Russia, came back and we begin to mend some fences. After the mending the following exchange took place:Big said "Is there any chance you can include in your preachings a principle that atheists should be treated as good and fair people until proven otherwise? Thanks in advance!I said "Big, I think the other atheist on these boards will tell you they have seen that aspect within my life, thoughts, messages, or whatever you want to call it.. I will promise you this; I will do my best, not meaning that I won't make mistakes on occasion. I will promote with all of my life the respect of all people, no matter their faith, sexuality, and/or politics or any other difference that we may possesses. Now on the other hand as you well know, I'll also voice my opinion and when I disagree or don't like something, will at least have the integrity to say so to the person.Tell you what; I'll post my blog tomorrow on this subject, with of course your permission.Big said: Good Mike! Because I have an impression that Ministers in Christianity try to portray Christian people as superior to atheists even if they are doing so indirectly.I dont mind the notion that Christianity helps people go through life but I dont see why atheists should be put down as a result.Big gives us something we can learn from, especially those of us who follow Jesus. He is asking for something fairly simple actually, and, in reality, a fair request. A request I believe Jesus was all about. That is, we give respect and love to our fellow human being, despite who they are and what they believe.I have to admit, the concept of feeling smarter or better than is not an attribute unique to any one group of people. Atheists that have this view are wrong! Christians who have this view are wrong! Any single person, or any single religion that has this believe of being better than anyone else, for any reason, is wrong!Recently on the Christian groups I belong to I have seen threads that deal with, Will Homosexuals be in Heaven? Will the sin of Homosexuality be allowed in Heaven? and I cold go on and on with various "sin" topics, but more often than not, the sin of Homosexuality.With all due respect to Big, Atheists, Homosexuals, or whoever, I can only best answer this question out of my own particular view and position. Therefore for those who are not followers of Jesus, please excuse the religious commentary.One of the wonderful attributes of the person of Jesus I see in Scripture is that he loved all people, in all situations, and involved in all sin. It was one of the reasons he was accused and condemned by many within the religious community. The story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery is one of the most beautiful stories in all of Scripture. The passage comes from John Chapter 8.

There are several things to remember about this event. The woman was caught in a act that according to the law of the time was punishable by death. In other words, she had not only violated Gods law, she had violated the law of man and the death penalty was appropriate. This sin is held as just as damning as the sin of homosexuality, yet, it is a sin speak less harshly of than the sin of homosexuality. I have asked this question many times, but what if the woman caught in adultery had been someone caught in the act of homosexual sin. Would Jesus response have been any different?During this event, the religious people were the ones sitting in judgment. Have the times really changed from AD 31 to AD 2006? Does anyone feel like I do, the religiuous people are still about the business of sitting in judgment over others. The church often rationalizes their need to judge, and Im not saying judgment isnt sometimes deserved, but Jesus gives the ultimate example of how to judge. He responds to others, even a woman caught in an act that was deserving of the death penalty, with love.

John Chapter 8, Verses 7-9 state: (7) They kept on asking Jesus about the woman. Finally, he stood up and said, "If any of you have never sinned, then go ahead and throw the first stone at her!" (8) Once again he bent over and began writing on the ground. (9) The people left one by one, beginning with the oldest. Finally, Jesus and the woman were alone.I love this passage, it is consistent with Jesus own teachings at the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7, when He stated in verse 3, You can see the speck in your friend's eye, but you don't notice the log in your own eye. How often are we as Christians judging those around us while at the same time ignoring our own sins. No wonder those who dont believe in God, dont have an interest in learning more about what we believe. Truth is, I wonder myself if many really believe this concept from a Scriptural basis.We can look at this passage as it continues in John chapter 8:10, Jesus stood up and asked her, "Where is everyone? Isn't there anyone left to accuse you?"(11) "No sir," the woman answered.Then Jesus told her, "I am not going to accuse you either. You may go now, but don't sin anymore."It is easy to pick on the sin, even the individual, but notice that Jesus did not do that. Instead he first showed love and acceptance. Those who would stone her, threw down their stones and walked off after Jesus confronted them. One of the issues many in the church has, is they hold on to the stones, stone in one hand, and telling the person that we love them with the other. Dont we realize that we cant hold onto stones and expect people to see love. That stone might be an attitude, a comment, or a belief, but it is visable, and takes away all concepts of love.We shouldnt ignore the fact that Jesus addressed the wrong the woman had done, but only after showing love and speaking out for her in her defense. Even then, he did not accuse her, instead he loved her and gave her a kind word to go and sin no more. Where is that attitude among Christians today?Now I realize that some of my comments are addressed to the Christians who may hear this, I dont want, or desire, that non Christians would think that I am casting judgment or negative thoughts towards them. That would make me the utmost hypocrite of all.

Yea Big, you are right on the money, truth is that sometimes Christians get to the place where we cast all kinds of judgment, thinking that for whatever reason we are better than someone else. This despite the fact that within the Christian belief system our Bible tells us in Matthew 5:45 Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong. Truth is, God is no respecter of persons. He loves the atheist like Big just as much as he loves an evangelist like Billy Graham. I believe that when we as Christians can display this attitude, the one that was in Jesus better, then and only then can we garnish the respect of those on the planet who see things differently.Truth is, whether one accepts it or not, God created humanity in His image. All people, including Atheists according to the Bible are a reflection of Gods creation. Now I dont expect those who dont believe in God to accept or appreciate this. I am okay with that, but.I do believe that they will appreciate the admonition to all Christians to get off our high horses. Quit thinking that we are so much better than others because of their belief or lack thereof. That just isnt the attitude which was in the ultimate server of all, Jesus Christ. Remember even he, prior to his crucifixion, took the time to wash the feet of the one who would betray him. If he can do that for the one who would betray him, why cant we do that for those that God has called us to love.

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