Lately, I’ve had more interactions with agnostics, atheists, and people who have mostly given up on faith. I really like these people. We’re a lot alike. They don’t put up with half-baked answers. They tend to be really compassionate toward people. And they question just about everything. Here’s what else I’ve discovered. There’s actually a really good way to prove God is real to people who don’t believe.
There is biblical precedent for how to prove God is real to atheists, agnostics, the non-religious, millennials, whites, blacks, the rich, the poor, the educated, the uneducated, the rust belt, the Bible belt, a black belt ninja, anybody. Guess what? It’s not easy to do, but it’s crazy easy to remember.
Quick story. I was talking to an agnostic/atheist friend recently. He’s a great guy who loves his wife and kids but doesn’t love the title I gave him. He said it comes with baggage. We relate. “Christian” carries a lot of baggage these days, doesn’t it? He’s started asking me a lot of questions about why I believe God is real. I immediately think of a Scripture a lot of us have memorized, and I feel compelled to give him good answers.
… if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. 1 Peter 3:15 NLT
So, I gave answers. I tried not to give him “the Bible says it and that settles it” answers because he doesn’t believe in the Bible. That wouldn’t settle it. I think the Bible exists because of God, not the other way around. My answers were about my intellectual realizations, my emotional experiences, my physical encounters, and finally my spiritual decision to bridge the burden of proof with faith. But what I did next, you might consider avoiding. At least for a while.
Next, I started telling him about a couple of writers, podcasts, and preachers he should listen to. My atheist friend responded with truth straight from the Bible. He said something like, “Jason, I really would like to know why you believe what you believe.” He went on to explain how most religious people send him to other people when he asks about their most personal belief. He didn’t want to read about some preacher’s faith. He was hoping to relate with mine.
Listen, I’m not telling you to stop inviting friends to church or sharing great content with them, but never let someone else’s faith replace the hope that God has given you. That’s the best hope you have to share. When Peter said, “… if someone asks about your hope as a believer,” he didn’t say, “Be ready to answer with someone else’s hope.”
So, back to the number one way to prove God is real. Be ready to give your reasons for why God is real. But there’s more.
As Christians, doesn’t it seem like we mostly try to prove God’s truth by presenting, and sometimes arguing, words about what we’ve read in the Bible? I know I do it. If you keep reading 1 Peter 3:16, it’s actually not a bad idea to share your reasons gently and humbly. But, my interaction with my friend left me wondering, did God make my religion one of mere intellectual proof?
The author of James, who is widely believed to be the brother of Jesus, makes it pretty clear that words are only part of the story. God Himself took words to the next level. We’ll get to that real soon.
If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. James 3:13 NLT
James says the burden of proof is in our actions. Words can share our ideology, but only through humble works can we fully share our theology. Remember John 1:14, the Word became flesh. God’s truth became Jesus in our world. But, God’s Word didn’t stop becoming flesh when Jesus ascended, it continues to be claimed as true (or otherwise) through our lives. Let me restate, we demonstrate God’s Word as truth for humanity and prove God is real by living out what we believe. So, with my friend, this means I can’t rely on someone else to share my faith. God didn’t pick someone else to be His Word. He sent Himself, His Son, who dwells in me. That’s the Gospel. The Gospel, becoming flesh through our humble actions, is the number one way to prove God is real.