I am a 16 year old atheist girl who has befriended many different people of many different religions. I have often been the aim of “playful” criticism for my lack of religion, but have no desire to change myself simply because of oppression. Many people assume that because I do not believe in God I am a bad person who does bad things. This is most certainly untrue as I have profoundly strong morals which I have kept to for all my years of life. My real dilemma lies in my Christian friend. She's a wonderful person who is very kind; however, her personal choices are very poor. She is a self-described “kleptomaniac” (a person addicted to stealing). These practices are very un-Christian, and I have told her that such actions are against her religion. She however disregarded my comment, claiming that because she was a Christian her soul was saved. Although I don't want to be condescending towards my friend I would like her to stop these habits before they place her into danger in this world or the next. Is there any way to stop her from acting with such blatant ignorance?
Some people believe that they are Christians because they live in the United States of America or because their mother or father is a Christian. Some also believe that being baptized or saying a prayer will make them a Christian. Then someone tells them that when a person becomes a Christian that person will always be a Christian. As a result, some believe they are Christian and then decide to live however they desire.
The Mistake. Some people believe that Jesus was a man, that He lived on this earth, that He spoke the truth, that He died to forgive our sins, He returned to life, and that He was God. It is a surprise for many to discover that God says a person can believe all these things and yet not be forgiven and consequently be a Christian. God says we can believe in vain (I Corinthians 15:2). That is, it is possible to believe and yet not truly believe. While Jesus was here on earth, Jesus said that we can know people by the fruits of their lives – their love, attitude, and conduct. Here is a quote from Jesus,
So then, you will know them by their fruits . . . Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.” (NASB) Matt. 7:20, 22-23
Mental assent is not enough. True belief in Jesus results in a changed life. It is possible for a person to live like a Christian and be involved in church and not really be a Christian. That person will not go to heaven but go to eternal punishment because he or she has not believed Jesus.
Mark of a Christian. The mark or evidence that a person really is a Christian is found in their love for God.
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. (NASB) 1 John 5:2
The evidence is discovered in the heart and as a result they want to please God. They want to do what is right. People are Christians when they believe that Jesus died in order to forgive their sins, they do not like their sins, they want their sins forgiven, and they come seeking Jesus’ forgiveness.
Your friend needs to understand that her actions indicate there is a great need in her life. Her need is a real relationship with Jesus. I would encourage your friend to read the pages at the following links: What Is Faith? and True Christian? I also encourage her to read “God’s Great Passion.” You may need to teach her yourself.