The fifth annual "Hug an Atheist Day" was observed last Friday. The day is intended "to tell the world that we are humans like them and the only difference would be that we believe in science and not a supernatural being." (Note the false dilemma between science and the supernatural.) There are "Hug an Atheist" T-shirts; the event has now spread to India as well.
Here's what we were supposed to do: "1. Find an atheist, agnostic, ignostic, nontheist, antitheist, antireligionist, apatheist, secular humanist, skeptic, misotheist, dystheist, structuralist, freethinker, naturalistic pantheist, absurdist, deist, theravada buddhist, zen buddhist, nihilist, marxist, pastafarian, spagnostic, gropaga, existentialist, or anyone else who doubts the existence of a god. 2. Run up to that nonbeliever, and give him/her a gigantic hug!" (In case you were wondering, Spagnostics believe that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the true creator of the universe.)
I for one think "Hug an Atheist Day" is a great idea, and not just once a year. After Jesus invited Matthew the tax-collector to join his band of disciples, he was invited to dinner that night with Matthew's notorious friends (Mark 2:13-15). The religious authorities were outraged and confronted his other disciples: "Why does he eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" (v. 16). Our Savior responded, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (v. 17).
How many atheists, agnostics or Spagnostics do you know? When last did you share a meal with one?
It's no longer necessary for us to cross an ocean to become a missionary. According to an email I received yesterday from my friend Tom Doyle (Middle East missionary with e3 Partners), Dallas is the second-fastest growing Muslim city in America, outranked slightly by Chicago. The Dallas-Ft. Worth area receives more immigrants than Norway and Canada, which are two of the leading immigration nations on earth. Wherever you live, someone else lives there who needs to experience God's love in yours today.
One of my favorite songs begins: "Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away. We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing. Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth's become so hard to see. The world is on their way to You but they're tripping over me. Always looking around but never looking up, I'm so double minded. A plank-eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided."
The chorus is a prayer for us all: "Oh Jesus, friend of sinners. Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers. Let our hearts be led by mercy. Help us reach with open hearts and open doors. Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours."
Jim Denison, Ph.D., is a subject matter expert on cultural and contemporary issues. He founded the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, a nonsectarian "think tank" designed to engage contemporary issues with biblical truth in 2009 and is the author of seven books, including Radical Islam: What You Need to Know. For more information on the Denison Forum, visit www.denisonforum.org. To connect with Dr. Denison in social media, visit www.twitter.com/jimdenison or www.facebook.com/denisonforum.
Publication date: June 11, 2013