As I go through this Good Friday, my mind turns to my friends that don’t see this Friday as good- atheists. As I think about what this day means to me and the magnitude of God’s own Son coming to earth and dieing on the cross, I also think about how atheists must see today. I mean, when you don’t even believe there is a God how unreal it must seam to imagine God’s Son coming to earth in order to bring forgiveness and hope.
I think there are three types of atheist that I have encountered over my life: the faithful, the ignorant, and the hurting. The faithful atheist is the one that tries to see everything from a naturalist perspective. They examine super natural claims and then attribute natural explanations to said claims. This is truly a faith journey because when you arrive at a supernatural event/claim that you cannot explain you must BELIEVE that one day the natural world will yield a true explanation. In order to hold to this worldview you must place an extraordinary amount of faith into science. The second type of atheist is the ignorant atheist. You run across these type of people in every worldview and they typically have little effect on people. They are simply atheist because they haven’t come across anything that would tell them otherwise. Their typical response is, “I guess I never really thought about it”. The final type of atheist is the hurting atheist. The hurting atheist is by far the most common atheist that I encounter (although they typically claim to be the faithful atheist). The hurting atheist has encountered some experience that hurt them deeply and they hold either God or Christians responsible. There are so many people out there that have decided that if there is a God He would not allow them to hurt like this.
Please understand that I am not speaking as an expert in atheism and I am most certainly not looking to argue; but I am merely telling you that on this Good Friday there is hope for all! At the foot of the cross God’s grace is available to all. And so, as I ponder His grace today my mind returns to the atheist.
There is hope for the faithful atheist. At the cross they find a historical Jesus whom fulfilled over 300 prophesies while on earth. Here they can look at the logical journey of how a personal God had to reconcile the people He created for relationship to Himself after they had broken the moral law. If the wages of sin is death then there was only one answer to reconciliation- a perfect sacrifice to reestablish the bound between Creator and creation.
There is hope for the ignorant atheist. At the cross they find a love that they cannot find anywhere else. It is a love that establishes peace, hope and a future. It is the love that calls us to our purpose of relationship with the Divine. At the cross they see why they matter. At the cross they see Jesus say, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” It is in those words that they know Jesus has a place and a future for them.
And there is hope for the hurting atheist. At the cross we see Jesus offer salvation to the hurting thief. It is at this point that we see that Jesus never gives up on us. The thief was hurting and had done so much bad in life that he had nothing to offer but for his hurting, dieing soul and yet Jesus freely gave salvation. However, the story doesn’t end there for the hurting atheist because it is 3 days later that we see Jesus doesn’t turn His back on us even when we turn our back on Him. For He would soon pour out His spirit on the very men who walked away while Jesus hurt so greatly. We can go through the hurt because He was bruised for us and yet He endured. And He is still enduring today for so many hurting who have turned their backs to Him.
And so this is a good Friday for all of us! For those of us that have accepted His gift of salvation it is a day to remember where our life begins- at the foot of the Cross. And for the atheist it is a good Friday because it is a day to confront the message of hope, peace, joy, understanding, and purpose that rests there at the Cross. So, Good Friday to all- our Savior has paid the price for us all!