My teenager was asked by a boy at school this week “I’m an atheist does that mean that I am condemned to hell?” She wasn’t sure what to say – as a Christian she knows that the Bible teaches that apart from belief in the atoning death of Jesus on the cross we all go to hell, but how to say that in a way that doesn’t sound harsh and judgemental?
It made me think of the analogy of a shipwreck. Imagine we are all in the water, we are all going to drown. Some of us don’t realise it because we are such good swimmers that we can’t yet see we are in trouble. Some of us are holding on to bits of the wreckage and think that that will save us. But like the survivors of the Titanic found out, the water is too cold, we can’t stay in it, we have to get out if we are going to live.
Those of us who are Christians have found the lifeboat, we are standing in it calling to those who are drowning, “You’re going to drown, come here, this lifeboat is the only thing that can save you!”
How silly for the drowning to reply “How dare you say I’m drowning! I’m not drowning, I’m swimming just fine thanks. You think you are so special in that lifeboat, who do think you are? You’re no better than me!”
Christians know we are no better. But we also know that we have found out how to escape drowning and from our perspective on the lifeboat we can see how those in the water are struggling, how cold and tired they are, and how some of them are swimming in the wrong direction and getting further and further from help.
Christians are not arrogant and self-righteous when they say Jesus is the only way to salvation – they are rescued and dry and safe, and they want to share that hope with you.