I Respect The Searching Pagan More Than The Arrogant Atheist

My Respect For The Searching Pagan

A tribute to belief.

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One of my professors enjoys saying, with emphasis and a smirk: "People make their gods."

"You make your gods up in your heads. You fashion them yourselves."

Would it help anything for me to disagree? I could never fashion God. He fashions me.

It's an African-American literature class, so the poetry and prose often touch on African heritage and tribal gods and so forth.

And so tribal masks and stick idols are talked about with reverence and a scholarly tone but with an air of above-ness. I don't quite know how to describe it. It's like someone talking above a guinea pig cage, praising the guinea pig habits and culture and their "guinea pig-ness," but obviously speaking as their superior. They are a study subject, a specimen, not an equal. She belittles their belief, in everything she doesn't say and in her frequent line.

And I find myself taking the side — the side of the tribes!

Her arrogant unbelief, her belief in herself, is staggering, and she pats herself on the back by, in no uncertain words, equating the son of God, Jesus Christ, with some crude sculptures.

(I am sorry if this turns into too much of a rant. I am called to love this professor and pray for her good, not to be sinfully angry with her!)

I respect the pagans for their belief, their wild longing. They knew that there is something more than the materials they saw, or they longed deeply for the "something else." They worshipped something outside of or beyond themselves.

Atheists, they worship at the altar of self.

I pity the pagans, for they worshipped what they did not know and yet what they created with their own hands. They bowed to dirt and dust, to nothing. But I hold a respect for them, for their wild longing and leap, for their acknowledgment that we are made to worship, for their dancing expression of longing and hope, for their search.

They are a million miles closer to the truth, to beauty, in their native ignorance of Christ, than this professor who looks upon the crucifixion with amusement.

If only she could let the possibility of truth pierce her hide, if only she could walk down from her intellectual pedestal, to worship at the baby's manger, at the humble, horrifying cross. I want more than anything, that her eyes may see and eyes may hear.

If only she could look on Jesus, not as a specimen, but as her Savior.

I pray for the day! In the meantime, she teaches me ever more about the startling beauty of humility and about the incredible limits of the intellect. Rationalization and education are a load of crap if they lead us up into the dungeons of pride.

The soul of the unbeliever, of the atheist, is more chained and poisoned and broken than that of any human slave who ever lived in the freedom of Christ.

We come upon a lot of hard questions in literature, some hard morsels that will knot your stomach. Like there's this slicing fact that the salvation of many people into God's kingdom (and out of paganism) came by the way of kidnapping and brutal slavery.

Many of the African-American poems talk about the cost, the high cost of knowing Jesus. Many Africans paid the great cost of slavery in finding Jesus. Was it worth it?

Not if you think Christianity is merely soul comfort. Not if you think it just provides structure and purpose. Not if you think it's just a constraining religion or just one of many ways to God.

Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And to those who believe, yes, He is worth everything, though His ways are beyond our understanding.

Christ is not a God for white people alone! What a joke. He came 'first for the Jew, and then for the Gentile.'

Jesus reaches out to every nation, to every pagan, every atheist. He reaches out a loving hand to all men, none excluded, asking them to feast around the fire, to know Him and forsake their sin.

A relationship with Jesus makes joy central, and suffering, no matter how great, peripheral, in this life. For we know the end of our stories (and their real beginnings) will be glorious and good: redeemed. This harsh world of our sight is not all there is.

Christ is the hope of all nations, a healing balm for the bitter cynic, and the fulfillment of longing for the pagan.

Through the tribal fire, through the haze of death and the burning horror, through the pains of great wickedness, our perfect God reaches out a hand to those who run from Him. He offers love, He offers His one and only Son, bearing our sin on a cross. No one could have made this up, this radical, forgiving love.

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." — John 3:16

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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It's Okay To Be A Shattered Temple, God Doesn't Need You To Be A Perfect House

God wants to restore you because the scariest place for the enemy is the transformation from broken to healed.

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So right now it's 6:09 a.m., the house is so quiet I can hear it breathing. The wind slightly knocking against the walls like an unwelcome guest. The heat running through the pipes bringing warmth to each section of the house. The rain from the skies kissing the roofs and windows. I just thought how intricate and specific each role plays. How on its own it must feel inconsequential, but together completes its purpose.

In the Bible, a house/temple is referred to as a body often. We sing songs, "Lord, make me a house of prayer." But in some seasons, we doubt the very thing we asked God for as if it wasn't already designed for us.

Sometimes in our walks, we question our purpose. We don't see the grand scheme. On why we went through what we did, or why we currently are. We want explanations for everything because if our human minds can't comprehend it that means it was in vain. I have wrestled with this concept, the "Why me?" the "I didn't/don't deserve this" and lastly, "I just want the pain to end."

See, what they don't tell you when you sign up for this is that salvation is free but sanctification costs your life. They don't tell you that you have to change your words from "Why me?" to "Count it all joy." They don't put a disclaimer saying that the walk is free but the path is narrow. They don't tell you that you are a house.

A house can have broken parts but still be used. You can be broken and still be used by God. Because God isn't looking for perfect he's looking for posture. He's looking for an open house not foreclosed one. When something is broken within your house, you call someone with that specific training in that area. The very thing that you think qualifies you as broken can be the same that qualifies you as a healer! You looked at your situation as a test but God is trying to use you as a tool.

You don't call a plumber to fix a light. You don't call a perfect person to help an addict. You want someone who doesn't look down on you but says, "I can help, I know because I've been there and I know the pain, I know how you feel. Let's tackle this together." It's okay to be a broken house, a shattered temple — I have some creaks and leaks, too. God wants to restore you because the scariest place for the enemy is the transformation from broken to healed. Why? Because then you'll start setting others free. People don't care what you say, they care about what you do.

What you thought counted you out, God is counting on to help someone for their breakthrough.

They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. Let your house be open for not only God, but others. You may see yourself as a broken mirror, but others see a reflection. Your life is a testimony of not shame or embarrassment but of strength and grace. Your house may be missing things — a father, joy gone, love absent, peace may be missing — but God doesn't intend to keep you in lack, he is all-sufficient.

But he needed to withhold things from your house because one, you needed to know who really supplied it, and two, so you can show others how you overcame. But he is faithful He will fill those broken places and mend the broken hearts. He will be the light in your house. So that you may project your light to the world.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill can not be hidden. Neither a man lights a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on the stand — and it shines unto all that are in the house. Even so, let your light shine before men; they may see your good works and Glorify your Father who is in heaven.

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