This morning, I was enjoying a cappuccino and mindlessly scrolling through Facebook before getting ready to head into the office, and a share caught my eye.
To all of our atheist friends: Thank God you’re wrong.”
The words felt in my spirit like a spoon full of vinegar on my tongue. They made me wince. I felt sad, and embarrassed, and immediately posted as much in sharing the picture.
After lunch, I found my mind still unsettled as it churned ever more on these words, evidently plastered on a digital billboard in New York City. How arrogant. How pretentious. How obnoxious. How self-righteous.
The Fox & Friends Facebook post indicated that the “Christian” group Answers in Genesis, had placed the billboard in response to an atheist billboard touting “Who needs Christ during Christmas? Nobody!” After a little research into the matter, it appears that the billboard with the specific ad and wording in the Facebook post, and picture above, were actually run in October of this year. On Answers in Genesis’ blog, written by it’s Founder Ken Ham, I found the description of, and a YouTube video showing the actual “response” ad that is being run around Christmas.
No matter who is responding to who, and despite the appearance of a much more Grace-full wording in this second ad, I find myself greatly disturbed by these ads overall, Christians being tied up in (and proud of) a “billboard battle,” and the underlying intent of the ads.
Mr. Ham writes,
What is the purpose of such billboards?
Well, one reason is that we have noticed in recent times many atheists have become much more aggressive in promoting their religion. However, they have not just been promoting atheism, but in many ways they have attacked and denigrated Christianity…
…In addition, this nation has seen an incredible attack on Christianity with lawsuits filed to have Christian symbols removed from the culture—so they can impose their religion of atheism on the culture.
At Answers in Genesis, we wanted to reach out to the atheists because we are burdened for the lost, and at the same time make a very public statement to the nation…
…I urge Christians to be bold for their faith. We all need to be more active and enthusiastic than the atheists—after all, we have the message of truth the world needs to hear.”
While I sincerely appreciate AiG’s “burden for the lost,” which I know is genuine – it is sad that Mr. Ham and AiG want to “battle” and fight – and use (waste?) who knows how much money in order to do so. Of course, they are not alone in their posture of battle. Many Christians today love to fight and war and battle – sadly for a Victory that is already secure.
We just are not very good at resting Victoriously in Jesus Christ.
Often, we are not good at loving, or serving, or displaying Grace, or humility either. These are Fruit and gifts that flow out of a Life lived by Another, and a security in the posture and identity in that Life. A faith that is insecure will fight back when it perceives “attack.”
Meanwhile, Jesus dwells patiently inside and whispers,
I’m already here, child. There is no need to fight for Me. The war is won. Rest in Me… and Live.”
AiG is promoting “aggression” on the part of Christians, to respond to perceived aggression and attack of atheists. Jesus reminds us that we are already overcomers, and that aggression in His Kingdom looks like abiding in His Love, and displaying that into the earth.
AiG is using millions of dollars, flashy billboards and questionable at best language to “make a very public statement to the nation.” Jesus has invited us into a Life of humble following that makes It’s statements with Love and Serving the world.
AiG is “urging Christians to be bold for their faith…to be more active and enthusiastic than atheists…(because) we have the message the world needs to hear.” Jesus is the “Message,” those who have rested in His Love have an eternal reservoir of enthusiasm, and the world will know the boldness of their faith by the way they Love. (John 13:35)
I am not writing this post to pile on AiG, or Ken Ham. I do not know him, and had never heard of his ministry until today. If he reads this, or if we ever have a conversation, I would tell him I love him, and thank him for his evident zeal for God. I just do not agree with the motivation or intent behind this billboard campaign – and wish to offer another perspective.
To all of our atheist friends:
I don’t have a gazillion dollars to spend on billboards in Times Square, San Francisco, LA and elsewhere to get your attention. But, I want you to know I love you, and that yes, Jesus loves you too. But I’ll never fight you to prove that – and whether you ever agree with me or not, doesn’t change that Love.
That’s about all I can think of that needs to be said. The rest, I hope and pray you will see, in my life, and others who are following Christ.
Oh, and if you are atheist (agnostic, doubting, questioning, curious) – will you scratch an itch I have? I am VERY curious as to the effectiveness of ads such as these I’ve written about (there have been many others, as I’m sure you’re more aware of than I).
Will you let me know in the comments your reactions to these ads? To these words? To comments like those of Mr. Ham’s?
Imagine you are walking through Times Square and happen to catch a glimpse of these billboards, and their message, or in seeing them here – what do you feel and think? Have they or will they cause you to visit AiG’s website? Have any of you drawn closer to accepting a reality of God – or more, a relationship with Jesus Christ – as a result of these?
I sincerely want to know. There are no stones here from me. This is not me trying to “evangelize” you. I just, like I said, have a curious itch, and curious minds want to know…
…what do you think?
(Please share this with any atheist friends or family you are in relationship with, and have them comment below. They can also hit me up on Twitter, find me on Facebook, or Like my Zōē Perissos Facebook Page to comment there.)