A few self-described atheists didn’t think this statement sounded too loving. One suggested that I needed to “open my heart.” Another said that “Christian love” is a joke over which no one is laughing anymore.
My point in the tweet was to highlight the truth that the Christian worldview, when truly embraced, enables a person to love those with whom they disagree. For example, as a Christian I believe the biblical doctrines about God, humanity, Christ, heaven, hell, and salvation to be true. Because of this, I do not accept worldviews like atheism, agnosticism, Buddhism, Hindusim, and Islam, to name a few, because these belief systems are contrary to biblical Christianity and therefore not true. Yet the Christian worldview, while simultaneously requiring me to reject contrary worldviews as false, enables me to love atheists and those who adhere to other religions for two basic reasons.
All men and women are made in the image of God.
First, the one with whom I disagree is made in the image of God. Even though adherents of other religions reject the God of the Bible, they are, nevertheless, God’s image bearers (Gen. 1:26). For this reason they are worthy of love and dignity. I can treat them respectfully by listening to their position and making sure that I can articulate their beliefs in a way they would find satisfying.
And despite our vast differences in worldview, Christ calls me to love my neighbor, to feed my enemy, to do good to those who hate me, and gently correct those who oppose the truth of the gospel (Matt. 22:39; Rom. 12:20; Luke 6:27; 2 Tim. 2:24-26). Now, if you’re not a Christian, you may not like that last statement. To say that your opposition to Christianity needs correcting is to imply that your worldview is wrong, an implication you may take as tantamount to rejecting you as a person. But the two actions (rejecting your worldview and rejecting you as a person) are not the same. But more on this point in a moment.
Salvation is all of grace.
The second reason the Christian worldview enables believers to love others is because it teaches us that our ability to embrace Christ is not the fruit of any moral or intellectual superiority.