There is a question that is, in my opinion, the basis of all, or at least most, atheists beliefs. This question, that lots of people either don’t know the answer to, or they don’t grasp the reality of the answer to, causes many people to rebel against the safety of our Lord and declare being an atheist. But, in the words of Kevin Sorbo when he is acting as an atheist in the movie God’s Not Dead,
“…..the most passionate atheists in the world, were once solid Christians, but then something was taken from them…..” (That was paraphrased…).
Atheists ask this question whenever they are again confronted with Christianity, using it as an explanation to their disbelief.
This common and deadly question was presented in God’s Not Dead to Josh, the college student (played by Shane Harper) who refuses to write the words “God is dead” that was assigned to him by Professor Raddison (Kevin Sorbo) in order to pass the class. When Josh refuses, the professor then challenges Josh to stand up for what he believes in by defending his faith in front of the class. It is during one of his lectures that Josh is presented this question, and he answered like all Christians would have answered, even I would have answered in the way he did. But, recently, I had a revelation for a new way to answer this question, a way that explains the Gospel as well as not causing atheists to roll their eyes.
The common question is:
The common answer (and yes this is still 100% correct) is:
God plans to, when He returns again, He will conquer pain, suffering, and death and we will reign with Him, free of our oppressions, guilt, temptation, and everything else that we suffer from now. It will be gone! Jesus will trample it under His feet upon His return!
Everyone who believes this gets excited! We know the meaning and anxiously await His return, like a bride awaiting her bridegroom! But unbelievers, they tend to zone in on only one part of this answer, “when He returns“. Once again referring to God’s Not Dead, Professor Raddison responds to this answer similar to the following,
“When He returns?! So you’re saying that God intends to get rid of everything, but not until He’s ready, so until He gets here, we just have to buckle up for the ride and watch our loved ones die from cancer, our best friends kill themselves on drugs, and deal with everything else that could possibly go wrong, but, you expect me to hang on to the fact that someday, probably after I’m dead, God will finally decide to do something and all of this pain will be gone. Wow, a lot of good it’ll do me then won’t it?! After I’ve already lost everything!”
Let that response sink in for just a minute, go back and re-read it if you need to. That is the response of someone who once believed in our answer, but they had a hard time gripping the reality, so when the first big, life-shattering trial came along, the belief in a good God was demolished. That response, is how most people, who have been through tough trials and don’t fully understand the Gospel, that’s how they will respond to our answer. So, we either need to find a whole new answer, or just explain a little more. My revelation, was to explain just a tad bit more to give the full reality of that answer.
Here is my answer to the question, not mine because I am all-knowing and I’m better at understanding the Gospel, but it is mine because Jesus decided to reveal this answer to me in order to share it with you. This is how Jesus wants us to respond to that question, and, since my gift is that of writing, I am going to illustrate it to you through a story, below is the story of A Common Question, but because I don’t want this story to be real long, I am going to narrate A Common Question up until the scene I wish to open it at.
There are only two characters, Julie and Jade, both girls of age 17 and attend the same school, as well as the same church. Julie and Jade have been friends for many years, they are both extremely involved in their youth group an are always looking for ways to share the Gospel with others. But, these girls have two very different home lives. Julie lives with her parents who grew up as Christians and married as high-school sweethearts, there marriage is strong and Christianity is just a way of life for Julie. Jade’s parents divorced when she was very young and she lives with a depressed mother, she attended church for the first time because of her school friend, Julie, and fell in love with Jesus, fully grasping His healing arms.
Two years before our story opens, Julie’s mother was diagnosed with cancer, she battled for her life for two years until Jesus took her to live with Him. Julie is crushed and confused, but, she is also angry. Jade is trying to help as much as she can, after-all, she does know what it’s like to lose a parent, but, Julie finally just explodes, asking the very question that we have been discussing.
A Common Question
by Rayleigh Gray
“Jade! Enough! I don’t care! Mom is gone and there is nothing that you can say to bring her back, but you know what?!” Julie stood inches from her friend and poked her finger into Jade’s chest, pushing her backwards.
“God could have said something!” She yelled, poking her friend again, hard, “He could have merely whispered the words and she would be standing right here, free of pain, and she’d be alive!” Tears dripped from both the girls eyes, both from pain, but two different kinds of pain.
“If He could have done that, then why didn’t He? Huh Jade? Why didn’t He heal Mom? No!” She walked away, in helpless rage, waving her hands around. “He could take cancer out of this world in the blink of an eye, but why doesn’t He?” She began sobbing, falling against the wall breathing hard.
“Why doesn’t He just get rid of everything Jade? I know He can.” She buried her face into her hands.
“Julie,” Jade began quietly, “Do you know what brought pain into the world in the first place?”
Julie rolled her eyes and huffed, eyes still dripping tears, “Seriously Jade? Adam and Eve. Everyone knows that!”
“Exactly!” Jade walked over and put a hand on her friend’s shoulder, “God didn’t want sin in the world to begin with, but once the human race, Adam and Eve, chose sin, then it was permanently brought in. Adam and Eve not only chose to sin, but they also chose to give Satan full reign over the earth.”
“Jade, I know the story.” Julie interrupted, again rolling her eyes, “Then God sent His son, thousands of years later so that we could be forgiven of all our sins and then one day, probably thousands of years later, He will come again to get rid of sin and pain and everything permanently. But why couldn’t He have just taken it all away in the beginning? Answer that, Miss Know-It-All!” She glared at Jade.
“Well, think about it Julie, He DID take it away in the beginning by not ever creating it! Adam and Eve spoiled it, so it’s here no matter what, until Jesus comes again. But-” she held up a hand when Julie tried to interrupt her, “when Jesus comes again, the earth as we know it will be destroyed. There will be a new earth and a new heaven, but we don’t really know if people will still be getting married and having kids in these new places. If Jesus came to destroy sin and pain right when Adam and Eve sinned, then there is a real good chance you would have never been born, no other human would have been born aside from Adam and Eve, obviously God wants all of His children with Him. So, what if, God is just holding the door open until all of the people He loves has gotten on board? When the last person has boarded, then, He’ll close the door, but not for good, it says multiple times in the Bible that He will be willing to re-open the door for anyone was a little late in getting there. But in the mean time, while He is still waiting for those coming, He is there for all of those already on board, because though they are not out in the open, they are still effected by their surroundings.”
I am going to close with that. The only way that we will know how Julie responded will be to give that answer to someone else who has asked you that question. It may sink in and it may not, but I know without a doubt that this post was meant for at least one person, whether they needed to hear the answer themselves or needed a way too word what they already know in their heart.
I hope that this post has helped everyone in some way, big or small, and that you are refreshed and glad by it! I pray that every one of you reading will have a fabulous day and I also pray that you will have the courage and strength to answer any questions concerning your faith and that you are well prepared! God bless you all!