Friends with Atheists
Friends with Atheists
Five years ago, I was living a comfortable single girl life in Southern California surrounded by a community of solid, godly friends and family. Today, I’m a married woman living in Australia, thousands of miles away from everyone and everything I once knew. And while my husband is a solid and godly man, the reality is I’m completely surrounded by a community of atheists.
Maybe you’re reading this right now and thinking, so what?
Let me break it down for you: I was born into a Christian home, raised attending church at least once a week, and studied at private Christian schools from kindergarten to college. As a result, my community has always been a Christian one and my worldview, Biblical.
Enter Australia. Living here forced me to make lots of personal adjustments—like trying to decipher common English words mixed with cryptic local Aussie slang or learning to “keep left” and drive my car on the other side of the road. Everything feels familiar but foreign; similar yet opposite. However, there is one adjustment that consistently proves to be the most difficult among those of us who regularly move house and that is, establishing good friendships.
After several months of living in Sydney, I finally began to meet people who I genuinely clicked with--people just like me who have immigrated to Australia and who have faced many similar experiences and challenges with adapting to the local Aussie culture. Over the past few years, these same people have become some of my closest friends. And they're all atheists.
Sure, they’ve heard about Christ’s love and know small bits of His story, but when it comes to His truth, they reject it. Friendly conversations often turn into debates on evolution, gay marriage, climate change, and religion--all of which no doubt stem from our opposing worldviews, theirs being strictly secular humanistic and mine remaining firmly Biblical. Facts are touted, opinions rage, and passion sometimes escalates into verbal blowouts, eventually leading us to retrace our steps and find small bits of common ground in the end.
It isn’t easy to befriend, or even remain friends with, atheists. Sticking within the Christian community is so much easier. All those years that I lived in California, I never really ran the risk of being questioned about my faith. With the exception of one university class, I never had to explain why Jesus is more than just a historical figure to me, and I never had to give evidence supporting the validity of the Bible and why I believe it is the infallible and authoritative living Word of God. That is, until now. So why do it?
Why choose to remain friends with atheists?
The truth is, the answer to that question belongs to the One who gave them to me in the first place. It isn’t like He hasn’t blessed me with Christian friends because He has. But for whatever reason, they aren’t the ones who consistently ring me up. It’s these ones, this anti-God, anti-Bible handful who always call, email, text, and respond. And that’s when it hit me.
It’s not actually me who my friends are seeking out.
My life, this flesh that encases me, and all that I am is absolutely nothing without my Creator, my Savior. If I thought to myself, “Well maybe these girls just think I’m nice and they enjoy my company,” I’d be fooling myself. The Word says I’m dust (Genesis ), a vapour (James ), and am like grass that will wither away (I Peter ). How’s that for self-esteem? But it’s the truth, right? Why then, would anyone want to be my friend if I really am all these things?
Because the Word also tells me it is Christ who lives in me.
The life I live now in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians ). And that’s also the truth. So you see, even though my friends may tell me God isn’t real and they deny His Word, the reality is, the life that they see in me comes from Christ alone. I cannot be separated from Him and his realness. “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
I have nothing to offer my dear friends except truth—the truth of the Word.
And I have to remind myself of this when controversial topics arise and the atmosphere heats up. I have to tell myself that I do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age (Ephesians ). I need to have my wits about me, knowing that my biggest enemy is close by and that he prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).
Jesus didn’t come into this world to demonstrate love, to die for our sins, or to fulfill prophecy--although He did accomplish all of those things. He tells us what His life purpose was and it’s clear: “For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” (John ).
What is truth? His Word is truth (Psalm 119:160). The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1). Jesus says He is “the way, the truth, and the life.” Truth is in His nature, it is His character, and He lives and breathes it through His Word.
My friends are desperately searching for truth. They read books, do research, follow theories, and are easily captivated by the world’s lies. But in the midst of their journey to find answers that prove there is no God, He decides to drop me, a Christian, into their lives.
I don’t know how long our friendships will last or how it will all turn out in the end, but I do know one thing for sure—no matter where you go in life, whether it’s 7 miles or over 7,000 miles from home, God will equip you to be a living, breathing testament of His love, light, and truth to all those around you. For He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. (Philippians 1:6)