My Atheist Friend

John (not his real name), a Caucasian, was my client for about five years in my other life. He was the fair-haired boy of his multi-national company. Although he was young (30's), he was promoted by the US head office to Marketing Director in its Philippine subsidiary (the biggest in Asia in those days).

He headed the huge department that had a workforce of a dozen bright brand people and over 200 aggressive sales agents. 

John was exceptionally smart, aggressive, and perceptive; he towered over most of my clients in our eyes. He could grasp ad concepts just by glimpsing tiny thumbnails (doodles), and we in the creative department did not have to go through elaborate presentations to make him see our point.   

It was always a joy meeting with John in the board room.  He was never rude and had a dry sense of humor.

He became a friend when he and I traveled abroad one day to see to a post-production of one of his products. Thoughtful and gentle, he was the epitome of GMRC (good manners and right conduct)—saying all the proper things, careful not to offend anyone.

That's why I almost choked on my sashimi when he mentioned that he was an atheist. In the same breath, he said in words to this effect, “I may not believe in the existence of a god, but I have a deep appreciation of what is right and wrong.”

I was not about to debate the subject. First off, an ad person is cautioned never to antagonize her client, especially one whose ad budget pays the salaries of everyone in the agency.

Like a turtle, I retreated into my shell and lost the golden opportunity to share my faith. 

But my thought balloon was crowded with, How can you have a conscience and not believe in God?  How can you, who have been incredibly blessed with so much, not see God's hand? I changed the subject to how well our TV ad had turned out.

John was promoted to a bigger subsidiary two years later, and today, he is the president of the entire conglomerate!

I have always believed that our conscience is a gift from a loving God, who likewise gave His only Son to save us. When we accept His Son's love, He guides us closely through our many weaknesses by heightening our conscience. In the process, we see God’s holy ways.

Our conscience is God’s way of saving us from further temptations, making us realize we need to cling to Him to see right from wrong. 

Listening to our conscience is like listening to the voice of God; our conscience is His Holy Spirit in our heart day and night, showing us the way of truth. We are safe there. 

On days when my conscience pricks me, I think of John.

I pray that one day, he will come to know that his “deep appreciation of right and wrong” is grace that could only come from a living God, who exists from everlasting to everlasting. 


Yay Padua-Olmedo said...

How sad if in this life, someone like John would have it all, then lose them altogether, even his soul and eternal presence with God, because he rejected the very Person who created him. I pray he would humble himself and really KNOW God.

Grace D. Chong said...

It's been years since I saw him. I am wishing that between then and now he has seen the light.