Old friend turned from God to he is his own god

In high school, we had a small Bible club. John was part of it. We each went to different churches. He was in a Church of Christ. He was a year behind me. He lived with his mom. I moved away, and lost contact with him, until Facebook. Casual interaction there. I’m not a big FB user. I’d PMed him a few times over a few years. This one got a reply.he is about 48

Hi John,
You’ve come to my mind from time to time, and I’ve been praying for you when I remember you. I know you have had hard times in life and understand your hurt. But I want to remind you, hell is eternal punishment, not a party. God still loves you and hasn’t given up on you. You can tell God your pain, anger, disappointment. It’s in a lot of the psalms. I want to see you again in heaven. I am here to talk if you want.
-Bobb
His reply:

Thanks Bobb, I appreciate the thought. I have just moved on. God is just another fairytale like Santa and the Easter bunny.

My life is so much better now that I believe in myself over a deity.

Even in your words above, avoiding punishment is not a reason to follow a dictator.

I mentioned him in my introduction. Someone suggested ‘children believe in Santa and Easter Bunny. Adults start believing in Jesus.

I want to be equipped so God can use whichever tool is best when I reply.

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Hi @rkendall33544

Thank you for your question. Well done on reaching out to your friend and telling him that he can go directly to God and express all of his pains and struggles. It can be difficult to know what the best thing to say or do is. Spending time in prayer and asking God for wisdom and discernment is a good place to start. Allow the Holy Spirit to minister to you and pray that your friend may receive a personal encounter with God.

But for your friend, you might find it helpful taking more of an interest in his life first and just seeking God how best to love Him. It sounds like his decision to reject God is not from a place of actively seeking after God and searching for answers, but from a place of emotional turmoil and personal hardship. Maybe find out more about what he has been going through and what the reasons were that ultimately led him to no longer believe in God. It is difficult to give answers to why someone should follow Jesus when you don’t know what the starting question is :slightly_smiling_face:. From the comments he replied to you, you could ask questions like:

What were some of the decisions or deciding moments that made you choose to no longer believe in God?

How has believing in yourself made a positive difference in your life?

What have you gained in your life which you didn’t have before?

You mention that avoiding punishment is no reason to follow a dictator. I completely agree with this view. Can you tell me more about how you used to view God? What do you think was the purpose of being a Christian?

These are just a few ideas that may be of help. Many times you will find that they had an incorrect or incomplete view on the true character of God. But spending time to find out what was the reason for his change of heart can help more in future conversations. Another resource I found helpful recently was in the Podcast discussion section. Below I have attached the interview link on addressing objections to Christianity with Jo and Vince Vitale. It may be of help to you when considering how to approach interactions with your friend :slightly_smiling_face:.

God bless

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Update: had a good text chat with him. His dad died when he was 10 at 71 years old. His mom was about 45 years younger. She died a few years ago. He is divorced after a 5 year marriage. Reason: he grew up. We talked about a girl we both had a crush on (at the same time). He doesn’t like her husband.

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It sounds like there is a lot of hurt in his life. One very common reason for people to reject God is the argument that a good god would not allow suffering to happen. Therefore, if there is suffering, than God must be bad or unable to help. But 1) this isn’t good logic and 2) it also leaves the question unanswered of how to explain suffering without God. All worldviews must explain why people suffer.

Know that it isn’t up to you to save him; that is God’s job. We are simply to plant seeds and water. Sometimes we get to harvest too, but God may have someone else in mind for that. You will mess up. People don’t come to Christ because of the awesome arguments we make, but because of the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

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Thank you @RebeccaN,

I sent him the last message a couple days ago. I will pray and send another later today. There hasn’t been any arguing. I’ve come curious and concerned about him. I know it is God that saves, and we can be the workers He uses along the way. I’m definitely not one to say (or think) “he is saved because of me”.
-Bobb

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Hello Bobb,

Oops, I meant “arguments” as in persuasive statements. I am sorry I didn’t make that clear.

I hope and pray your friend comes to Christ. It’s hard to wait for that to happen. I pray God gives you the knowledge and wisdom to know what to say next, the words He wants you to say.

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Further texting, I brought up philosophy and meaning of life. I had a college class about 4 years ago on philosophy. My professor was a Catholic priest. He quickly earned my respect, and I honored him with title father. (Not that I wouldn’t respect and honor other priests, just the depth was there). But I got off topic.
My friend is an existentialist. He shared a pbs video about it. Good refresher for me. It was part of a series and the did a good job presenting it, defending it some, but not overly pursuance. Without God, it would make sense.
His answer to why he left the church:
“ I was too far behind the curtain… in leadership. The more I became a leader, the more I realized I was on my own and there was no God to follow. Years later, I realize the Bible cultivates a codependent mindset. Very toxic for the individual and very cohesive for the group.“
Still praying, but will look at some existence posts here. May God get all the glory.
-Bobb

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