One Sunday, our pastor was talking about the Rapture of the church, when many believe Jesus will return to gather His faithful saints and whisk them skyward.

Forgive me, but my mind got to wandering: How many in our church would go?

On my left was Ed, 85 years old. Ed lives his faith, tells others about it and sings loud worship songs, calling them “wonderful.” Without a doubt, he’s going up. He’ll blow the roof off the place!

But there are some unlikely candidates; I won’t name them. The preacher says a trumpet will sound first. Will that allow people to grab hold of people such as Ed in hopes they can hitch a ride?

An Exchange of Notes
Then I got to thinking: If the Rapture happens while we’re in church, who will take care of our Maltese Shih Ttzu that was discounted at a pet store because its teeth are crooked? What will happen to my dog?

I asked a dog-loving friend about this. He mentioned that some atheists have a website, claiming that in the event of the Rapture, they will graciously take care of my dog—for a price. How cool is that?

I found them. And wrote them a note:

Dear atheist friends!

My Maltese Shih Tzu is 10. Does your lifetime guarantee last for the life of my pet or for my earthly life? Additional pets are $15 each, I see. Would this apply to goldfish or would you consider a group price for a bowl of them? Thanks!

Roger replied with good humour.

Hi Phil,

I sense a degree of enthusiasm that I could literally cut with a knife. Sorry, we cover your pet rescue contract for 10 years. So I recommend you flush those fish and save money.

Roger also told me that he has written a book about Christians, and that I should check it out online.

So I responded with another note:

Congrats on the book. I’ve written some myself. I’m a follower of Jesus but not always a big fan of what I see in some of our churches. Christians are like manure: We do pretty well when we’re spread out, but when you pile us together too long, whooie! All the best to you and yours!

I received the nicest note in response; we exchanged books and now keep in touch.

A Beautiful Friendship
One day, Roger admitted to me, “I’ve met some horrible Christians and some wonderful ones. There are more like you than there are like them. Next time you’re on the coast, I’m taking you out for lobster.”

Roger calls himself an antitheist and loves to send me examples of Christians who have messed up. I tell him he doesn’t need to look far. Those who name the name of Jesus don’t always follow Him. But much of what we see depends on what we’re looking for.

I’d love to tell you that Roger has done an about-face, but God is writing his story, not me. Roger is just a guy Jesus loves. Yes, he’s angry, but he’s thoughtful and intelligent. His eternal destiny is not my responsibility. Loving him is.

Perhaps you have a Roger in your life. Five things can make all the difference:

Be Real. You don’t have to be all smiles, no problems. All answers, no questions. In fact, it’s OK to say, “I don’t know. Let me find out.” Be yourself. Be real.

Be Prepared. Care about the answers. And don’t be afraid to dig for them. And tell your story. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

Be Loving. Whoever said it was right: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Show genuine interest in their world.

Be Funny. Go ahead and laugh. I haven’t met one skeptic who said, “Those Christians just laugh too much. I don’t want to join them.” Others need to see our joy. And if you’re not funny, buy one of my books and plagiarize freely.

Be Prayerful. God changes lives. Never stop praying to the God of hope. And the next time you see a GAP T-shirt coming, remember what it stands for: God Answers Prayer.

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