While it might seem like a funny phrasing, or a malicious/bad taste plan-on-words, I am sincere in my statement:
Thank God for the Atheists in my life.
One is a person I only know via Facebook, she is one of the most endearing, kind, open, loving, supportive and active listening people I know! We have invested in life together, sharing of what’s going on, the good and the bad, and everything in between. She does a good job at active listening which I appreciate. She dives deep into what going on in my life, and she is sincere.
When I think about my friendship with her I think what makes it work so well is our transparency with one another, and in addition to that she has a good knack of knowing when to speak and when to listen.
The other individual is someone I used to work with, a guy is amazing at his job and meeting individuals who have mental illnesses where they are on their terms. I am proud of him and how well he does his job which is sometimes very thankless. Apart from being a good worker, he is articulate, thoughtful, and very caring. He recently joined me to and from our mutual friend’s wedding and it was great to converse with him, but more so to the point, share life in community with him.
So why do I say all this about my friends who are Atheists? Because I have removed myself from the framework that says I will listen to good counsel solely from Christians; I am no longer a fan of the tribalism that Christians produce, the us vs. them paradigm; I consider myself a follower of Christ but I will take good counsel from those who are outside of my faith and beliefs.
Even still as I examine my own faith and beliefs I realize they aren’t what they were 10 years ago, or even 5, or even 1 for that matter. I think God has been leading me to be more intentional with my life, in the way I spend it as well as the way I invest it, and as a result I figuratively as well as literally choose to prepare an open table for all whom I come into contact with. My friends who are Atheists have never been legalistic or dogmatic about their views, nor have they have never come across as rude and aggressive. Take note Christians, that you can love God and love others holistically as well as faithfully by simply doing good to others and this can be pointed back to God. As St. Francis of Assisi said; “preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”
It’s good to know people in life, in community, who are doing what they can to make the world a better place. It might not look like how I do it, but if it betters humanity holistically I for one will not be bothered in what’s being done regardless of what a person believes or doesn’t.