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10 Tips for Interacting with an Atheist

10 Tips for Interacting with an Atheist

For the past month I’ve had the unexpected privilege of corresponding with an atheist. He first emailed me because he took issue with my post “I’m Falling in Love with an Atheist.” I responded, and we’ve been writing back and forth ever since.

When I was your age, I would’ve freaked at the idea of dialoguing with an atheist. I’m not an apologist (someone skilled in the defense or proof of Christianity), and I’ve never aspired to be one. A fair amount of the time I feel simple and not-so-smart.

God’s Word is clear that the Holy Spirit must open our blind eyes and unstop our deaf ears in order for any of us to believe in Him.

But God brought this man across my path. Plus, I have the Word of God and the Spirit of God to help me. I might as well learn a thing or two about how to use them, huh?

You probably don’t feel like an expert either. But I want to encourage you to respectfully and kindly engage with that atheist rather than running in fear the next time you cross paths. Here are ten tips to help you as you do:

1. Don’t wait ’til you have all the answers.

You’ll never have all the answers or be able to fully wrap your mind around God. He’s way too big for that! Besides, how do you think you’ll learn? (With uncomfortable situations like this that will drive you to God’s Word for answers, that’s how!) What a great opportunity for you to stretch your brain—and your faith—muscles.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16–17).

2. Don’t freak out when your atheist friend makes God sound like a fool.

If their arguments appear convincing, if they sound like they know more about God’s Word than you do, that doesn’t mean God’s Word is broken. Go study the passages they mentioned in context (atheists and Christians can both be bad at taking verses out of context). Remember, God’s Word is perfect.

The word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him (Ps. 18:30).

3. Don’t feel like you have to offer an answer right away.

It’s okay to tell them, “I’m not sure. Let me get back to you,” and then spend time thinking, praying, and researching before responding. Some people are just “quicker on their feet,” and that’s okay.

The heart of the righteous ponders how to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things (Prov. 15:28).

4. Expect a whole lot of objections.

These will range from “the Bible is full of contradictions” to “the Bible has so many translations from so many different languages” to “the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament” to a whole lot more. (None of these objections “hold,” by the way, if you do your homework.) If you stick with your atheist friend long enough, these aren’t usually the main reason they don’t believe in God. Listen for their main objection. It might take several conversations to get there.

The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out (Prov. 20:5).

5. Be winsome in how you share truth.

When Jesus shared truth, it was “with grace.” (That is, except for the times He talked with the religious snobs who claimed to know God but trusted in their own “good” works.) Jessie Minassian writes about sharing truth in love. Here’s just a taste:

To paraphrase Paul’s famous love chapter (1 Cor. 13), if I can quote apologists, argue with atheists, and verbally spar with the biggest skeptics but don’t love them to pieces, then all my clever words amount to exactly nothing.

Your atheist friend is not your enemy. They’re held captive by your shared enemy: “The god of this world [notice the “little g” god—this is referring to Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4).

6. Continue to share truth from the Bible with your friend, even if they don’t believe in the Bible.

How can they believe if they do not hear the truth? If you ever offend your atheist friend, may it be with God’s words and not your own.

Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ (Rom. 10:17).

If your friend hears God’s Word but never believes it, the fault did not lie with God’s Word, but with the condition of his or her heart (see Matt. 13:1–23).

7. Know that answering their questions and providing “evidence” will never be enough to change their minds.

God’s Word is clear that the Holy Spirit must open our blind eyes and unstop our deaf ears in order for any of us to believe in Him. Pray, pray, pray that God will do just that.

A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul (Acts 16:14, emphasis added).

My heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is that they may be saved (Rom. 10:1).

8. It’s not about you.

Don’t let your hopes be dashed if your atheist friend doesn’t change his or her mind. Don’t think you’re the bomb-dot-com if he or she does. It has not been a waste if they don’t become a believer through your conversation(s). Who knows what God has done in their heart through their interaction with you. But even if their heart has only grown more hard, if you have studied God’s Word with a vengeance; if your faith has grown, it has been worth it.

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth (1 Cor. 3:6–7).

Keep sharing the gospel with them every chance you get.

Even as you’re seeking to answer their questions, don’t forget to point them to Jesus every chance you get.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:16–17).

10. Ask a wise Jesus-follower for help.

We’re a “Body” for a reason. You don’t have all the answers (or gifts), and neither do I. Ask your church elders for help. Check out books like The Reason for God by Tim Keller, The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, and 77 FAQs about God and the Bible by Josh & Sean McDowell.

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them (Rom. 12:4–6).

I’d love to hear from you. Have you ever lovingly challenged an atheist’s beliefs? How did it go? Do you have any other tips to add to this list?

10 Tips for Interacting with an Atheist was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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5 Tips For Interacting With Guys On a Mission Trip

5 Tips For Interacting With Guys On a Mission Trip

Christian guys can seem like an endangered species. So when suddenly you find yourself serving alongside a hardworking, Jesus-loving, baby-carrying brother, it can be easy to lose your mind.

If you should ever find yourself on a mission trip with an eligible bachelor or two, consider me your sane voice of reason and remember these five things:

1. Keep the mission the mission.

You didn’t sign up for this mission trip in order to snag a man, right? I know you chose to travel to this particular place because you want to share Christ with others through your words and actions. You want to bless others. Maybe even change a life or two for good. Don’t deviate from your mission. The mission hasn’t changed; your focus has just shifted momentarily. Cry out to God to help you live and serve fully in the moment—seeking His pleasure and others’ good rather than your crush’s attention.

2. Expect a struggle.

I’m about 92.385% sure you’ll develop a crush on someone on your team while you’re on this mission trip. (Been there, done that!) Speaking from experience, I’d encourage you to be suspicious of your sudden, intense feelings. Stop and think about it for a minute. You’re spending a concentrated amount of time with a member of the opposite sex in super-close quarters on an intensely “spiritual” trip. Throw in a little culture shock, and you’re sure to feel more for this guy than you would if you met him anywhere else.

Don’t beat yourself up over this inner struggle. Instead, share your innermost thoughts and desires with your Father God in your prayers and/or a journal. Don’t pretend that these feelings don’t exist, but also don’t let them steal the day (or week or month). Remind yourself of the mission. Stay focused, soldier!

No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him (2 Tim. 2:4).

3. Guard yourself—and the guys on the trip—from unnecessary distraction.

How?

  • Dress to serve, not to impress.
  • Reserve your deepest prayer requests and thoughts for your female team leader or trusted friend. Pray in group settings or with other girls, but steer clear of praying one-on-one with a guy on your team.
  • Keep your hands off the guys. Save your backrubs and hugs for those needy kids in the orphanage or that cute baby Koala.

4. Decide ahead of time not to start a romantic relationship during the mission trip.

Emotions run high on these trips, and your feelings may very well change after you return home. Also, you may find that the guy is someone different entirely when he’s back in his day-to-day routine. Now is not the best time for a brand-new romantic relationship. (Remember, I’m your sane voice of reason here!)

5. Be yourself.

While we should always be wise in our interactions with guys, this doesn’t mean you need to leave your personality or voice at home. Be your normal, lovely self. Enjoy this adventure of a lifetime!

Have you ever been on a mission trip? If so, was it a real struggle to stay focused on the mission? Can you think of anything else that might help other girls who are planning on going on one soon?

5 Tips For Interacting With Guys On a Mission Trip was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com. 

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