40 Days of Prayer

Day 21: Food for thought

January 21, 2019

My Image

If the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, that man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood.
Ezekiel 33:6

From Our “Here”…


Penn Jillette and partner Teller (yes, he carries a single legal name) have been amazing audiences with their two-man comedy/magic act, Penn & Teller, since 1981. They never fail to leave audiences in complete “How did they do that?” befuddlement.

Both men are perhaps as well known for their atheist views as for their illusionist talent. When it comes to atheists, it can be tempting for believers to fall back on overly simplistic “biblical stereotyping.” Grab a verse of Scripture out of context and wring the life out of it.

“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1). You’re an atheist? Well… the Bible says you’re a fool. You can’t possibly have anything to say that I would find worth listening to. End of discussion.

Without belaboring the point, both Psalms are really describing fallen humanity. Both are essentially saying that every one of us is, by nature, separated from God. All of us need redemption. The biblical use of “fool” is never an empty, derogatory word. It’s always a warning. Such a serious warning, in fact, that Christ cautioned against anyone lightly using the term as an epithet (Matthew 5:22).

Penn Jillette is no one’s fool, and what he had to say on a video blog a number of years ago should have every Christian taking some time in sober self-examination.

Here’s the gist of Mr. Jillette’s blog: After a Penn & Teller show, the duo were mixing with fans. One admirer, a businessman who earlier had been called from the audience to assist with an illusion, did what might seem to be the most audacious thing imaginable. He gave Mr. Jillette a small Bible. He did it with such kindness that Mr. Jillette appreciated the gesture. Appreciated it so much that he devoted one of his video blogs to that encounter.

At one point, Mr. Jillette makes a powerful statement, in essence, asking the question, “How much would you have to hate someone, if you personally believed in an eternal hell, not to tell them about it?”

Atheist or not, that’s one powerful commentary on the Great Commission.

…To God’s “There”

No follower of Christ should apply any label to any person that would limit the believer’s commitment to sharing the gospel with that person. Far too often, labels like “atheist” are placed on people as indirect claims such a person is beyond reach. He’s a meth head… She’s a lesbian… That kid’s nothing but trouble... They should throw that thug in prison and throw away the key.

Making the Leap

It can be both personally enlightening and painful to ask the Holy Spirit to identify our prejudices. But when we take that step to eliminate, with God’s help, every trace of superficial judgment, we are able to see people for who they really are—the intended recipients of grace.


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