Last Christmas, I rode with my roommate from Fort Lauderdale, FL to Nashville, TN for part of our Christmas holiday (after that, we went to Mississippi... yeehaw!). Her family lives there, and I've known them all since I was 11. My roommate's sister (we shall call her P) has lived there for perhaps 8 years or so; I used to live with her. At the time, I was very religious; she still is. Because I don't feel like listening to an angry lecture, I haven't told them I'm Atheist. It's not worth it. As much as they feel I'm their long-lost little sister, the feeling is no longer mutual.
While I was walking around the Opry Mills mall with P and her friend, Luke, we were approached by a guy who was "selling" Buddhism or... something like it. Maybe he was selling Unitarianism. I don't know. P and Luke are both hard-core Christians. When the guy asked them if they were "open minded", he quickly realized they weren't and asked, "Are you guys Born-Again Christians?" while backing away. As soon as they confirmed this, he made a couple snide remarks and retreated.
I knew this guy had simply had too many futile encounters with Christians, and that he had zero respect for them. He said a couple sarcastic remarks and went on his way, laughing. They took his immediate eagerness to "escape their presence" as a sign that his evil spirit could not handle being in the presence of the Holy Spirit. It was a victory in their mind; it just went to show how light is not compatible with darkness. The "Spirit" in them was just too convicting for whatever demons were possessing his body.
I just rolled my eyes; I knew he ran away from them because it's just so annoying to have a conversation with a Christian. The assertions they make are mind-numbing and laughable.
Several years earlier, P and a girl, Natalie, were having a debate with an Atheist at a coffee shop in Nashville called Cafe Coco (I recommend it if you're ever in the area). I wasn't there, but from what they told me, this is what I envision.
Natalie was trying to convince this Atheist he needed God/Jesus. He was probably sitting there calmly listening; patiently letting them make their case before he interjected his own conclusions. While Natalie went on about Salvation and Jesus' love for us despite our sin, the Atheist's friend was taunting P through the window behind them. P was so irritated that this guy was foiling their plans to "save" his friend and couldn't resist the urge to shoot him the bird.
Natalie's mouth fell open in horror; all her progress had gone to waste with that one gesture (she thinks). Why would anyone want to be a Christian if it's shown they're no different or better than anyone else? I'm not sure how long the conversation continued, but I'm sure he wasn't "saved" that evening. Natalie blamed this partially on P. What she doesn't know is that gesture meant very little to him; he doesn't put Christians on the pedestal they all think they're sitting on. They all feel they're being watch and scrutinized; if they screw up, the world can point and accuse them of being hypocrites. They're supposed to be a "light to the world" or a "city on a hill", and everyone can see their actions.
While it's true we're watching them, it's not for the reasons they think. Yes, we can (and do) call them hypocrites, but, at least for me, it's not because they don't "practice what they preach". I don't expect anymore from them than I expect from anyone else; I don't think they have super-human powers that come into question whenever they are overcome with frustration and yell out a curse word. I just wish THEY could see they're just like everyone else; I just wish they would realize that it's not because they don't live up to their own standards that I don't believe.
I don't believe because there's nothing to believe in and, when they aren't perfect, I realize it's because they're not. They're simply delusional. People avoid them because they're annoying, not because they're right. But, just like everything else in the Bible, their circular reasoning will tell them that, because they're avoided, they're doing it right. The more people they drive away, the more a testament to the Truth it is. They think no one likes them because Jesus said no one would; it's fulfillment of prophesy, after all.