What is more perplexing to the devout Christian than the agnostic or atheist that acts in the manner proscribed by Jesus? That is, Works to alleviate poverty, accepting of others, non-judgmental, etc. Our instinct is to convert them or to otherwise attempt to convince them that they actually are Christians.
I used to work at a soup kitchen in Boston. There was a young woman who was a regular and frequent volunteer who was attending a nearby university. She was raised as a Roman Catholic, but she did not believe in a higher power in the sense of a God, let alone in the truth of the trinity. The soup kitchen was run out of an Episcopal parish, I was there as part of my ministerial training. We had many conversations about faith, she had been challenged by several issues earlier in her life, but did not feel that they had interfered with her spirituality; she was there because people needed help.
After some 10 years, she is still working as a homeless advocate and still has the same feelings about faith. She typifies what Christ has asked of us for our fellow man, and I am awed that she is so inspired simply because there is a need.
What do we, as Christians, do with this? We embrace them. We encourage and support and welcome them. We foster relationships based on trust and respect. We look for opportunities for our own spiritual growth.
We do these things because as Christians, we are required to create an atmosphere of acceptance for all. Second we do these things because the ministry of Christ is about supporting those in need, not worrying about who is supporting them. It is not our role to decide who is and isn’t a Christian. Our role is to be Christians ourselves, and we all have to acknowledge that it is an individual and personal process that changes over time.
If we look at this young volunteer and focus on her spiritual growth, then we are judging her, we are minimizing her gifts and we are limiting our reach.
As Christians, we foster a welcoming mentality.
As Christians, we do not judge the words and actions of others.
As Christians, we welcome and accept those things which help the poor, sick and weak.
If you don’t believe in God, if you do not accept the divinity of Christ, then so be it. I still think you are a worthy person, full of love and I hope in time you will change your mind, but until then I sure appreciate your help.
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
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