Elohim, an Atheist, Secret Church, the Bible, Iran and How much do you hate people.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” Romans 1:16 (NIV).

You have to be wondering what do Elohim, an Atheist, the Bible, and Secret Church, Iran and how much you hate people have in common. Does it sound like an odd combination to you? I had the same thoughts. Maybe you have a couple of them figured out but the others don’t fit. Then God, Elohim, tied it all together for me. He can do that. He can do anything.

We serve an incredible God with many names. One of those names is Elohim. Creator God. Plural. That’s right, Creator Gods. Father, Son and Spirit. The Godhead. They have always been and will always be. They were there when the world was formed. Elohim created space for heaven and earth. Elohim speaks and it happens (Complete Jewish Study Bible, pg.2). He/They are not bound or influenced by time. All things were created by Him/Them. Man has never created anything. Man has made things but everything that has been made was made from something He/They had already created.

If I haven’t made it clear in the past or in the last two paragraphs, I believe in God. I find people who don’t believe in God to be strange and unique. Kind of like a unicorn (you’re welcome, Jesse). But since we were given free will and people are capable of anything, I’m not surprised by people who claim He/They don’t exist. Granted, they have more faith than I. After all, anyone who can believe cosmic flatulence got us to this point has got to have more faith. Which probably explains why most Atheists are upset or mad all the time. If you don’t believe that then how do you explain the atheist bunch that sues every time someone with the name Christian or Church walks into a public building? Hispanic people named Jesus must cause a conniption fit in their office.

As only Elohim can do, He led me to a short video on YouTube by Penn Gillette. He is the Penn half of the Penn & Teller magic team. Penn is an unapologetic atheist. Yet he doesn’t seem to be as mad as some atheist. He comes across in a very calm, respectful and at times humorous way. If only he could rub off on his fellow non-believers. The link is included if you would like to watch it. Let me warn you the video quality is poor, the important part is the audio and it is good. Another warning, it may convict you. It did me and it came out of left field. I never would have expected to be convicted by an atheist but I was. So you have been warned.

Click here to watch:
Atheist Penn Jillette believes Christians should evangelize

In the clip, Penn talks about a man that approached him after a show. The man hovered around for a bit then when he approached Penn, he gave him a Gideon’s Bible. One of the small ones with the New Testament and Psalms. Penn clearly recognizes that this man is proselytizing and he has no issue with it. As a matter of fact, he respects the man for doing so. Multiples times in the video Penn calls him a “good man.” After all, if you truly believe you know God and have the way to Heaven, why wouldn’t you proselytize? Penn then talks about seeing a truck headed toward someone that doesn’t see it coming. At some point, he is going to step out and tackle that person to prevent them from getting run over and most likely killed. Isn’t our faith in Christ the same thing?
We know that one day Christ will return and everyone will face judgement. Heaven or Hell. So Penn asks the question, “If you believe in God and have the answer to spending eternity in Heaven, then how much do you have to hate people not to tell them about it?” It’s at this point you might recognize that annoying little thought of conviction. I did. I still do. I still can’t forget about it. What a great question. So, how much do we hate people not to share the Gospel with them?
Therefore go
At the end of the clip, Penn makes it clear he does not believe in a God. Tragic. But there is still hope. Wouldn’t it be great to run into Penn in Heaven one day? How amazing would it be for him to come to faith in Christ today? Do you think if Penn ever became a follower of Christ that he would hate people enough not to tell them about it? The answer should be obvious. Then that begs the question, “Why do we?”
Still struggling with this question, I attended Secret Church last Friday night. The subject this year was on the Bible, God’s Word. I hope and pray for the opportunity to write more about it in coming weeks. But the focus was answering five questions:
  1. Is the Bible Divine?
  2. Is the Bible True?
  3. Is the Bible Clear?
  4. Is the Bible Sufficient?
  5. Is the Bible Good?
The short answer to all of the questions is YES!
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16 &17 (NIV).
So instead of offering me an opportunity to forget or at least ignore my conviction, it only served to compound it more. “The purpose of the Bible IS NOT to answer every question we may ask or provide direction for every situation we may face. The purpose of the Bible IS to CONFORM us into the image of Christ” (from Secret Church 17, page 96).  Did Christ love or hate people? Obviously, His trip to the cross is undeniable proof of His great love for all of us. If we claim to be followers of Christ shouldn’t we be like Christ? If we read and study the Word of God shouldn’t we be conformed to the image of Christ? Then how much do we hate people?
Just when you think that there’s enough conviction, here comes Iran. Yes, that Iran. It was the country of focus during Secret Church. The country that according to almost all news accounts hates us with a passion and we return that hate with equal passion. But wait a minute. That may be the attitude between the two countries, but should it be mine? See above. The answer is No.
We have fellow brothers and sisters in Christ living in Iran. I think that I have been persecuted because my order at the drive thru is wrong; these followers of Christ are experiencing true persecution. Rejected by their Muslim families, unable to work, ostracized, imprisoned and children being taken away from them. Yet they continue to follow Christ and seek to tell others about Christ. They love people enough, even people that hate them, to tell others and share the gospel. And we are afraid of what?
Then to cap things off, at the end of Secret Church before we ended the night with prayer for our brothers and sisters in Iran, they played a video of those same brothers and sisters praying for us. Yes, us! Praying for us to have strength and be bold, praying for us to not to be afraid, praying for Jesus to bless us. Good grief. I sat in stunned silence. Convicted in my cowardice. Realizing the only answer to the question of how much I hate people is that is must be more than I care to acknowledge. Father forgive me. Father forgive us all.
Every time we are around someone, we have the opportunity to share the love of Christ and the gospel. It may be with other believers who just need a word of encouragement or it could be someone who has never called upon Jesus as Lord and Savior. We may be called to plant the seed, water it or possibly be a part of the harvest. May we be like the man who loved Penn Gillette enough to give him a Bible and share the gospel, regardless of the outcome.
 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 (NIV).
So the question is: How much do we love or hate people? You can’t be both. The Bible speaks clearly about a double-minded man. Instead of believers in Iran looking to us for encouragement maybe we should be looking to them.
Run to the Cross!

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