As you gander about online, perusing your interests, you will inevitably stumble across two age old combatants locking horns on eternal issues. In particular, I refer to the endless discourse between Christians and atheists. I suspect a sizable percentage of the internet’s content is composed of these two fractions engaging one another.
Many the times, within google+ or elsewhere, you carouse for some meaningful snippet to uplift and nurture your soul. I find it is always a joy to meet a kindred spirit that loves Jesus as much as I do. Yet curiously, upon any Christian site you choose, you will quickly find an antagonistic atheist presence there. Some seem to spend more time on these sites than many Christians. Many of my siblings-in-Christ relish the opportunity to witness to these unusual personalities: unusual, in that they apparently find some form of need, or perverse pleasure, in trolling Christian sites. A troll by definition is a twisted and ugly creature with an unnatural hostility towards creatures of the light. The name is fitting for these particular atheists. Many Christians view them as a ministry opportunity, and some as an annoyance to be ignored. I hold both these views depending upon the particular atheist, and whether they are potential seekers or vulgar haters.
Yet, the other day I suffered an epiphany of sorts that gave me time for pause. While I understood my motive to converse with these atheists, I began to consider the uncomfortable reality of what their motivation would be to seek me out. This yields a particularly interesting insight into the psyche of an anti-Christian atheist troll, given their beliefs and how they choose to spend their time. Given the blink of life they have, they seem to have an unhealthy preoccupation that borders on manic when it comes to religious people. While they should be living out their moment on hedonistic pursuits, they preoccupy themselves with an activity that takes time away from pleasurable endeavors. The only explanation would be that they take pleasure in trying to hurt Christians, to rattle their cages and shake their world views. - And when you take the time to think about it, you begin to see the sad, empty, little lives that they live. And this insight shifted my perspective - of the nameless God hating troll on the other end of the keyboard - and evoked my pity.
There are many hapless things in life. Yet few are as pathetically cringe worthy as anti-Christian trolls. I will illustrate why this is so, and examine the pertaining question of “why do they do what they do”? As such I will examine the two cosmologically opposed adherents of said positions to elucidate what type of people they truly are. Your motive for your action reveals your morality or lack of it. And in light of this reality, you will see why these trolls should be pitied.
There are many flavors of Christianity under the big umbrella of the universal Church. Styles of worship vary by ethnicity and geographical location. While people are different, the basic tenants of Christianity offer homogeneity across diverse experiences and historical time. So what is it that motivates a Christian to tell people about Jesus on an online forum, social media, or a blog? For that matter, what is it about a Christian that prompts them to give up on a materially rich 1st world country (where they may have been born - while many are not) and live the majority of their days in the 3rd world, telling people about Jesus? Online proselytizers are simply virtual missionaries. Their desire to share Jesus is the same as geographically located missionaries. If you are not a Christian, and you are sitting on a bus, and a Christian asks you if you know Jesus ... why does he/she do that? Why are they bugging you with that stuff?
Make no mistake, sharing the gospel offers no material reward. In fact, the ones in most need of understanding it are also the ones most hostile to it. Christians risk their lives in many countries to tell of Jesus. Even in so-called Christian nations, the proclamation of the Word is spit upon and the sharer ridiculed. Christian nations are not Christian, they are post-Christian nations, and have a growing hostility that is manifesting in policy and ordinances across their lands.
And there is no spiritual benefit, as in the vein of Islam for example, where a Mohammedan martyr might receive heavenly virgins for an act of violence. No, Christianity offers no appealing self-motivating reason to bring ridicule or danger upon the bearer of the cross. So why would a Christian act contrary to the grain of his self-preservation?
There are two primary reasons. The first is obedience. We are commanded share the Gospel - because God is concerned for the lost. And the second is analogous to the first. It is love. Christians are people that believe in eternal salvation and eternal punishment. They have already procured eternal life for themselves. So why do they engage the atheist then? Or the pagan? Or other belief systems? It is because of concern for that person. They see someone walking with their eyes shut towards a cliff, and call out to help them. They are truly concerned about the spiritual well-being of the other. They are good people that care for people. True, many lack finesse and many maybe obtuse ... perhaps doing more damage than good, but their underlining motive to lead people to Jesus is for love of those people.
So those online Jesus’ freaks and Bible thumpers, proclaiming Christ, do so (whether effectively or not) out of concern for the lost. They do so out of love.
Atheists also come in a couple of shades. Agnostics, in truth, are either weak willed atheists or atheists losing their faith. The varying degrees of dedication found in atheism, from indifference to fanaticism, seem to parallel those found by individuals in any religious sect. The weaker willed atheists are like cultural Christians. They don’t believe in the Son but they live a life influenced by their environment and upbringing. The atheist zealots are like clergy. And it is usually these atheistic zealots that spend countless hours debating across the digital media.
So why is it, that an atheist will spend countless hours a day, trying to convert Christians to atheism? What compels them to sacrifice their time, and hence their life to arguing with Christians? One evening an atheist and myself debated for 6 hours. This was time taken from family and pleasurable pursuits. My motivation ... was to help him to live. To truly live - happily and forever. The six hours I sacrificed was worth the potential eternity he could gain. His motivation, was ... ? What was his motivation?
To him, there is no afterlife. His time on earth is limited. So why would he waste his life trying to convert me to nothingness. To emptiness. The atheist knows that Christians are joyous. They have spiritual family, they have spiritual friends, they have community, they have meaning, they have purpose, and they have God. So what benefit is it to the atheist, to succeed in convincing a weak Christian to stop going to Church? Why would an atheist take 3 days of his week (for example) to convert a Christian into atheism? I’m not talking about an horny atheist trying to strip the morality off of an attractive Christian (though, that happens a lot - and that motivation is understandable, though morally repugnant). No, I’m talking about an anti-Christian troll spending his/her meaningless life patrolling the internet looking for Christians to disparage. I frequent several online Christian communities where several atheists take glee in trolling ... countless hours trolling and trolling. Why? Why would they want to spend a precious fleeting portion of their limited life mocking Christians? There are no hedonistic, materialistic, or spiritual rewards for them in this pursuit. In fact, many exude an undeniable hatred towards Christianity. The atheistic zealots are particularly virulent in this regards. They seem nothing more than world-view arsonists, which seek to destroy for the sake of destruction. Hatred appears to be the gas that fuels their engine. Hatred appears to be the pleasure they experience. All you have to do is read some of their posts to understand this reality. Ironically, their hatred is directed at those who wish them the best, life eternal in paradise with a loving God. It is not tit-for-tat, for while one is motivated to help the other, and other is motivated to hurt the other. I would ask the atheist, what would be your motivation for sacrificing your evening in an online debate with a Christian stranger that you will never meet, to try and convince them in the Big Bang? And for the more virulent anti-Christian troll: what would be your motivation for posting vulgar things seemingly to insult and insight reaction? The atheist’s days are limited, he believes in no afterlife. Acts of kindness are subjective, and compassion is irrelevant - given that when he dies they quickly pass to oblivion with him. What an odd thing for an atheist to spend 1% of his life trying to attack other people’s beliefs. Motivationally it makes no sense, unless on some level he found the process pleasurable. Unless he found pleasure in telling people that he thought that they were stupid. Unless he found pleasure in attempting to shatter people’s lives; in replacing a belief in eternal paradise with one of rotting flesh. In replacing a belief in a loving God and equality in humanity with a struggle for existence and a racial war between sub species. In fact, there seems to be something sadistic intertwined into the atheists motivation, something borderline deviant and malevolent. What a sad way to spend your days on this earth.
Emotions are powerful motivators for behavior. Online Christians are little more than virtual missionaries motivated by concern and love to reach a lost world and help them. Online anti-Christian trolls are sad creatures that appear motivated by hatred and that extract pleasure from trying to hurt people of differing views. For this reason, I feel sorry for the atheistically motivated anti-Christian troll. They are to be pitied for such a pathetic existence (seriously!): Just think about it ... it’s akin to an atheist with one day left to live, spending it throwing eggs at a Church. It is sad to behold and worthy of wretched pity. And all the more reason to double down and show them a life of love, a life worth living, a life eternal, and a life with Jesus.