Touching the hearts of atheists

Religion | Marvin Olasky

Touching the hearts of atheists

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Today’s New York Times Quotation of the Day:

“I’m an atheist, but I thought that was kind of touching.”

The statement came from a story about Clay Pipkin, 24, of Park Slope, Brooklyn. Pipkin left his girlfriend’s diamond ring in a cab and the cab driver got it back to him. Pipkin offered a cash reward, but the driver (unnamed in the story) refused, saying, “God has provided enough.”

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That’s when Pipkin found his atheism touched by an angel—and the result is one of the rare positive things the Times has to say about those who believe in God so strongly that they’d rather praise Him than eat at Mammon’s table.

Nearly 2,900 years ago, the prophet Elisha did something for Syrian general Naaman that was even better than returning an engagement ring. Elisha was God’s instrument in curing Naaman of leprosy. Naaman also offered a reward, but Elisha refused to take it.

Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, calculated differently. He ran after Naaman and grabbed the general’s gift: two talents of silver and some clothing. Elisha discerned what Gehazi had done and asked him, “Was it a time to accept money and garments?” Elisha pronounced God’s different reward: “The leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.” That’s what happened: Gehazi “went out from his presence a leper, like snow.”

We always have a choice: to glorify God or to enrich ourselves. If we seek first to glorify God, sometimes we benefit materially and sometimes we don’t. If we seek first our own aggrandizement, sometimes we succeed in the short run, but in the long run we turn leprous.

May God bless the cab driver who knew it was not a time to take a reward for doing what’s right. God has now magnified that small act of obedience into something that today, I hope, produced a tiny crack in the mental fortification of thousands of atheists.

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