Who blesses the athiest?

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. – Matthew 5:45 NIV

Bill Gates, former CEO of Microsoft, has an estimated net worth of $56 billion and is consistently listed by Forbes magazine as one of the wealthiest men in the world. When it comes to financial and business success, it’s easy to see that he has been greatly blessed. However, Mr. Gates is an atheist.

My place of employment is headed up by a man who is a devout Christian and often proclaims that his business has been successful because it has been blessed by God. He publicly expresses this sentiment during his annual Christmas party speech and while giving tours of our facility to outsiders.

When this belief was mentioned during a conversation this morning at work, someone asked, “If we have been successful because God has blessed this company, then who blessed Bill Gates?” The surprising answer from a co-worker was, “Satan.” I couldn’t help but snicker a little bit.

The easy answer could have been that God blesses everyone, whether they give him credit or not. They are also going to have a rainy day every once in a while, whether they are pleasing him or not. Or perhaps that’s just a convenient answer to an(other) unanswerable question.

Why would God choose to bless a person who doesn’t even believe that he exists? While I think offering praise to God for the things we have been blessed with is a good thing, surely we aren’t going to give God credit when underhanded business tactics and exploitation of the poor results in financial excess. And who are we going to blame when companies close and lives fall apart?

I can’t help but get a little uncomfortable any time financial wealth is linked to a higher power. Perhaps the real recipe for success lies in hard work, dedication, and long hours, with the credit going to the person making those sacrifices and thanks going to God for the opportunities that life presented.

Author: Brian

Blogger. Bookworm. Michael Jackson fanatic. Lives in Kentucky with partner of 12 years and three fabulous felines.

26 thoughts on “Who blesses the athiest?”

  1. Why is we bless God for the good and Satan for the bad? If anyone has ever read Job…look at how God allows Satan to ruin Job…

  2. “I can’t help but get a little uncomfortable any time financial wealth is linked to a higher power.”

    Well done, Brian–another great post!

    JimT

  3. OMG. Your co-workers. Will someone PLEASE write a sitcom?!?!?!

    Another thought provoking post, Brian! My brain hurts! :)

  4. My preacher for some reason LOVES to talk about how “godless” Bill Gates is (you say he is atheist, I’ll take that), yet, Bill Gates has spent a larger percentage of his money on charitable causes than most Christians I know, who quite often don’t even tithe. Too bad I think salvation DOES require some work on the believer’s part, not just belief. If I claim Christ is Lord ans Savior but do nothing, does that mean I can still into heaven?

  5. @ Jersey: Good point.

    @ jimthomp87: Thank you!!

    @ MBMQ: My partner mentioned the same thing. That seems rather “Christian” of them doesn’t it?

    @ Caroline: Believe me, I only report an iota of what I hear during the average day! I’m sure there’s plenty of fodder for a comedy or a drama.

    @ Claire: Thank you very much!

  6. Or, if you work is like mine, a soap opera.

    Great post. I know, and know of lots of people that are not particularly religious, but are the first to help out. In particular, my favoritest rock star, who gives millions to help the homeless, and lots of other causes. I think it’s about doing the right thing, regardless of you religion (or lack thereof).

  7. And god is said to have created satan, (and by extension, evil) the second most powerful being in the universe. But that little bit of circular logic seems to escape the rest of it, doesn’t it?

    What does it mean if I sometimes feel like I work for Satan?

  8. @ Alyson: Very true.

    @ Dana: Thanks!

    @ madmonq: I love your comment about working for Satan! I also checked your blog and read the questions for Christians, which were pretty powerful. Thanks for stopping by.

    @ John Grabowski: More good and important questions!

  9. Well…to answer all of you. Theologically this is called Common grace, which is the grace of God by which He gives inmumerable blessings to mankind. Jesus said, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Mathew 5:44-45). Paul the apostle said, “He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” (Acts 14:16-17).
    God is the Creator of all the universe. There is nothing that goes on in this world that escapes His will…nothing!

    The psalmist says: “The LORD is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made…The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food at the proper time.You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.” (Psalm 145: 9,15-16).

    From the most evil person, to the believer in Christ…they all receive blessings from God. The sin is that a person who receives this blessing doesnt acknowledge the fact that it is God who gives him everything he/she has. That is a sin.

    Now…Does the fact that Bill Gates gives a lot of money to charity affect his standing before God? The answer is NO. God said that all our righteousness are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Nothing counts except having Christ as our righteousness. Whatever good we do in this world, if it is apart from Christ, it accounts to nothing regarding one’s salvation.

    So…Gates and every other human being needs to thank God for His blessings and submit to Him…the sovereign Lord of All!!!

  10. At first thought this scenario reminds me of people who go through tragedy and blame God, asking “Why didn’t he answer our prayers?!?”

    God always answers our prayers–but often the answer is NO.

    And I think there’s something akin to that in the question of “Who Blesses The Atheist?”

    While we see our lives in their immediacy–“what’s happening right now”–God sees them in their entirety. Do we know that Bill Gates will not find God on his deathbed? Do we know in what particular manner God desires worship? Of course not. We only know what we believe according to our faith and our personal histories and experiences.

    Bill Gates may not believe that he’s doing “God’s work,” but that doesn’t mean he isn’t doing it all the same. And for the Almighty, for all we know, the good intentions and excellent results may be what count the most.

    Personally, I think that presuming we know God’s motivations is quite arrogant of the human race.

    My two cents.

  11. That is, if one isn’t a literalist like Eduardo above me.

    Faith should be more spiritual, and less literally based on scripture that history shows was expurgated by numerous councils and conventions–run by power-hungry men.

  12. @ Eduardo: You said –

    There is nothing that goes on in this world that escapes His will…nothing!

    Doesn’t that take away our free will? If he is controlling everything and has it all planned out in advance (all-knowing), then what’s the point of worrying about anything?

    Also, there are two great commandments from Christ – Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself. Most of those who profess to be Christians do neither. At least Gates is getting one of those right!

    @ Jamie: Excellent points all around! Your comparison to the prayer thing was right on. Just this weekend in church, a lady tearfully thanked God for a miracle involving her niece and cancer. It was a very moving story, but lost some of it’s gloss when a multitude of other prayer requests were made involving people of all ages with the same disease. Why would God choose to heal one and not the other, given that all are receiving prayers? Perhaps trying to figure God out is arrogant, but he gave us a brain for some reason. ;)

  13. Well..Even though God is sovereign over all, he makes us responsible for our actions. That is just the way He does it. The Bible never talks of a free will…NEVER! On the contrary the Bible says we are slaves of sin; that we are dead in our trespasses(Ephesians 2:1-3); dead spiritually without the capacity of doing the ultimate good which is seeking God. Romans 3 says,

    “There is no one righteous, not even one;there is no one who understands,no one who seeks God.All have turned away,they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good,not even one.” (Romans 3:9-12)Also Psalm 14,53, 1 kings 8:46,etc.

    So we were never free. We are slaves to sin. And God says that no man can maintain the whole law…cause if you maintain every commandment but fail to maintain one, you are guilty of breaking the whole law,

    “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (James 2:10).

    My point is that we do have to worry, because we are accountable, even if He is sovereign. The apostle Paul had the same questions when he taught about this. People said,

    “You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” (Romans 9:19).

    But Paul answered,

    “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” (Romans 9:20).

    Man has no right to question the way God does things. He is the Creator. So the Bible never talks about us havng a free will. It simply says that unregenerate men are slaves to sin.

    Concerning those christians you talk about. Many people say they are christians. In fact 85% of americans say they are christians. But you and I know this is not true. A true christian does the will of God, and as you say…a true christian loves their neighbor. When you see a person that calls himself a christian but lives his life like the rest of the world…you can assure that he is not a christian. Being christian is not saying a little prayer…it is an act of God on the heart of a person. God says concerning the act of conversion,

    “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you,and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” Ezekiel 36:24-27

    Conversion is an act of God…not of man. Faith is a gift of God…it is not created by man. Look at this passage,

    “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8)

    That is the mistake many people make. They think they are christians, but there is no evidence of God regenerating the heart of stone.

    And regarding James’ comment regarding faith: I think I answered his concern here, but I would add that doctrine was never born out of councils, etc. Doctrine comes out of the Bible. Those “hungry for power christians” you talk about…were not christians…

  14. And the Bible, Eduardo, came out of councils. Starting in the time of Constantine with the Council of Nicea. It was then that a number of “gospels” were thrown out. Up until that time there wasn’t even unanimity on the divinity of Jesus himself.

    Scholars who have translated the Dead Sea Scrolls, along with various other historical texts, have proven this.

    Although I do agree with you that those “power hungry christians” did not embody the spirit of Christ’s teachings.

  15. Jamie,

    If you are going to say something please be sure about what you are saying, because it makes you look bad.

    1.The Council of Nicea did not have anything to do about the canon of Scripture. The council of Nicea was brought up because a man named Arius began teaching that Jesus was created and wasnt God. So the fathers of the church got together at Nicea and 318 votes favoured Athanasius and the church view of Jesus being God, and only Arius and one of his disciples voted in fvour of their heresy. If you read Clement of Alexandria, Ireneus, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, etc, you can see that since the beginning, the church had the notion of Jesus being God. So dont say things like that because it is not true.

    2. The earliest list of books found date from the year 170 A.D. This list was done by a man named Melito, bishop of Sardis. It includes every book of the Bible we know today. Origen is another man that listed the same books we have today as being Scripture. So dont tell me that at the council of Nicea they “threw out” a number of gospels. That isn’t even true.

    Please inform yourself before saying something that isnt even historic.

  16. Please inform yourself, dear man. Simply because you only read selected texts does not make you correct.

    Arius was not alone in his beliefs, contrary to your implication. Indeed, many different sects from differing localities believed that the deification of Jesus was a blasphemy, and that doing so misdirected the emphasis away from Christ’s teachings and unto the man himself. Debate was long and arduous on this point. While the vote was overwhelmingly against Arius, it was not instantaneous, and historians overwhelmingly point that this was most likely political and not spiritual in nature. This is underscored by the number of Bishops who failed to attend.

    Then there is the argument over the Gospel of Mary, dated back to 130 A.D. (So there goes your 170 A.D. argument).

    Try picking up something other than canonical reconstructionist ideologies–perhaps some actual objective historical texts once in a while.

    Perhaps this one.

    Or this one.

    Because otherwise it makes you look like a pedant instead of an informed human being.

  17. I can’t help but get a little uncomfortable any time financial wealth is linked to a higher power.

    Same here.

    The qualities that make for a spiritual person and/or religious person are not the same. Sometimes they overlap. Often they don’t. In our congregations we have some who are highly successful in business and some who absolutely suck. There’s not much connection between the two. If anything, the businessperson must always be on guard so as not to be crooked.

    When Paul writes of approved persons of God, he includes lots of paupers who are among the most fondly remembered.

    They were stoned, they were tried, they were sawn asunder, they died by slaughter with the sword, they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, while they were in want, in tribulation, under ill-treatment; and the world was not worthy of them. They wandered about in deserts and mountains and caves and dens of the earth Heb 11:37-38

    Both rich and poor existed in first century congregations and James’ writing weighs in on behalf of those who are poor.

    My brothers, are not holding the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, our glory, with acts of favoritism, are you?  For, if a man with gold rings on his fingers and in splendid clothing enters into a gathering of you, but a poor [man] in filthy clothing also enters,  yet you look with favor upon the one wearing the splendid clothing and say: “You take this seat here in a fine place,” and you say to the poor one: “You keep standing,” or: “Take that seat there under my footstool,” you have class distinctions among yourselves and have become judges rendering wicked decisions, is that not so? James 2:1-4

  18. Jamie,

    I simply responded to your erroneous claim that at the council of nicea certain “gospels” were thrown out. That is not true.

    The earliest list of books, as we have them today in our biblies dates back to 170 A.D. Why? Because the last book was written somewhere around 90 A.D (by John). The list from Melito in 170 A.D lists what the early church considered were the god inspired books. Of course many other books were written after 90 A.D, such as the gospel of Mary, the gospel of Thomas, etc. They were not included as god inspired books by any of the early church fathers. So I dont understand what is your point with the gospel of Mary? The early church fathers didnt even regard it as scripture…

    Have you read Clement of Alexandria? Well he, as a church father, wrote about Jesus’ deity. And he wrote well before the Council of Nicea.

  19. Regarding Clement of Alexandria –

    I beleive it’s a modern notion to make him out as a proponant of Jesus’ deity. Here is a quote from an older book The Church of the First Three Centuries, by Alvin Lamson, 1869, pages 124-5:

    “We are astonished that any one can read Clement with ordinary attention, and imagine for a single moment that he regarded the Son as numerically identical—one—with the Father. His dependent and inferior nature, as it seems to us, is everywhere recognized. Clement believed God and the Son to be numerically distinct; in other words, two beings,—the one supreme, the other subordinate.”

  20. Well tom sheepandgoats,

    I dont know about Alvin Lamson, but I have a quote from one of his wrintings. Check it out,

    “There was then, a Word importing an unbeginning eternity; as also the Word itself, that is, the Son of God, who being, by equality of substance, one with the Father, is eternal and uncreated.” (Fragments, Part I, section III)

    maybe another one,

    “I understand nothing else than the Holy Trinity to be meant; for the third is the Holy Spirit, and the Son is the second, by whom all things were made according to the will of the Father.” (Stromata, Book V, ch. 14)

    or maybe this one,

    “For both are one — that is, God. For He has said, “In the beginning the Word was in God, and the Word was God.” (The Instructor, Book 1, ch 8)

    And again Clement writing, regarding Jesus,

    “Despised as to appearance but in reality adored, [Jesus is] the Expiator, the Savior, the Soother,
    the Divine Word, he that is quite evidently true God, he that is put on a level with the Lord of the universe because he was his Son.” (Exhortation to the Greeks, 10:110:1).

    I think it is clear what Clement of Alexandria thought about Jesus.

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