One of the things nonbelievers stumble upon when it comes to matters of faith or the story of Jesus is the seeming impossibility of physical miracles and resurrection. One way to open the conversation and move it away from atheism is to talk about Jesus in metaphorical and mythological terms.
A great hurdle to faith for nonbelievers is the idea there is some unseen yet material form of supernatural all-powerful being that controls our behavior — or to whom we must submit as far as following a set of rules.
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
By discussing personal enlightenment, you can move the conversation toward finding truth in everyday life, and then, how this really no different from a desire to touch the Divine.
Most people would agree they want honesty and authenticity in their lives. They don’t like lies, deception, or being misled. What they are really saying is that they want to find truth. They want to be able to make decisions about important things based on truth. They want to be able to put their trust in something or someone. They want to feel closer to something greater than themselves, often conceived of as love.
As we know, God is truth and God is love. After all, truth and love are good things, right? They certainly are not evil. Truth and love are the pinnacles of all things that are good. It’s right there in John 4:8, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
We then ask nonbelievers, “Do you wish to know truth? Do you not wish to know love?” Of course they do. “Then you wish to know God,” you say.
Can you literally touch truth? Can you literally touch love? No. These things exist within us and without us. The same is true of God. There is no need to conceive as God as anything more than this, for the nonbeliever. If that is as far as these people travel, they may call God by any number of other names, but He still remains God.
We can come to this by another route. The ancient Greeks had six words to describe love. Agape was used to describe a selfless love, extended to everyone, which C.S. Lewis also described as “gift love.” One cannot touch it, either. Yet we know it exists. We see it across almost all the major religions. Metta, for example, is a Buddhist term that means roughly the same thing.
These ideas can also be incorporated and discussed with the more mythological approach of discussing the “Inner Christ” — sometimes referred to as “Christ Consciousness” and sometimes referred to in Buddhism as “nirvana.” Simply put, it is an awareness of one’s highest self. It comes from a variety of sources — intuition, compassion, meditation, reflection, teachers, mentors, and even reason and logic.
It is known as “Christ Consciousness” because it is a state of mind and being that approximates all the elements that Christ represents. Even if a nonbeliever doesn’t accept the supernatural elements of Christ, the tangible and historical elements are real, and can be understood and internalized to facilitate self-actualization.
Who doesn’t want that? Who wouldn’t want to achieve a higher awareness and consciousness of everything around them?
The beauty of this approach is that it gets the nonbeliever on the same page as people of faith. There need not even be a discussion of religion, of the church, of Scripture. Instead, these concepts are directly relevant to everyday life, and all individuals would have a hard time denying that they want or seek these things.
This is the place to begin the discussion. By getting the nonbeliever to step within the believer’s frame of perspective — the next steps can begin.