I was speaking to pastor recently when the subject of ‘God-haters’ came up. You probably have met people like this, who are often vocal in their anti-God status and don’t want to hear the gospel. This situation is mentioned in Romans 1: 29 – 30, where the writer covers the subject of God’s wrath against sinful humanity. The passage gives some strong descriptions about a wide range of people: “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents”.
Recently I have thought long and hard about how we can reach these people with the truth of the Gospel. To begin with, it is vitally important to understand why some people are so against the Gospel. What causes them to take a stand that is so against Christianity and makes them full of hatred when it comes to the things of God?
From experience I believe that the reasons for this type of hatred are many and they range from things like family upbringing right through to those that are demonic. God-haters can come from areas that may be surprising.
A number of years ago I worked part time for an evangelistic newspaper called ‘New Life’. Part of my job involved meeting with groups of church leaders to encourage them to use this publication as an evangelistic tool. At one such meeting, I arrived early to meet the organiser, who was a Salvation Army Major. Solemnly, he explained that he needed to give me a warning. “Oh, what is the warning?” I asked. “Two of the ministers in the meeting are vehemently again the gospel,” he replied. That meeting was a real battle from the start to the finish and it felt as if I was flogging a dead horse. Believe me, God-haters come in all shapes and sizes!
Key Point: He is able to break down the biggest barriers to people’s hearts. The exciting thing is that He chooses to use people like you and me to speak to them.
Having witnessed to many people like this over they years I have come to the conclusion that many are God-haters because they have either had a bad experience with Christians or a church. Other reasons are often that they have either been impacted by, or witnessed, Christian hypocrisy.
My wife attended a Catholic school and used to tell me how the students struggled to listen to the priest that took some of the classes, as he were often known to be drinking alcohol. This made the students in the school struggle to take him seriously which resulted in a lack of respect.
These types of things can cause immense damage and make it incredibly difficult to even engage somebody with the truth of God’s word. However, the good news is that God is able to do the impossible! He is able to break down the biggest barriers to people’s hearts. How exciting that He chooses to use people like you and me to speak to them!
On a number of occasions, people that I have shared the gospel with point the finger at an individual saying “ I would never go to church if that person was there”. They give examples of hypocrisy in the person’s life examining the way the person behaves in work or how they treat their neighbours. This makes the job of witnessing more difficult. In this situation, I explain that a person shouldn’t base their decision to accept or reject Jesus based on someone else’s bad behaviour.
As Christians, our lifestyle must be one that gives a good witness of Jesus being in our hearts. He didn’t gossip, criticize people or get involved in factions at work. He demonstrated love and compassion and in order for us to have credibility with people when we share the gospel, we must show the same.
What is the key to reaching hard-hearted people? Is it a well presented gospel or testimony or something else? Those things are very important, but we have clear instructions in the Bible - we must demonstrate love always and add to that much prayer.
When we are with people who hate God we must love them - even those who would persecute us – showing that we have the love of Jesus in our hearts. This must be backed up by prayer, calling on God to break down walls of rejection, fear, disappointments and those of hatred.
We need to use wisdom in the way that we witness to people because we will sometimes come up against the enemy who hates all things that involve the Gospel. This is why prayer is essential in personal witnessing. When we engage an unbeliever in the Gospel we are involved in spiritual warfare. That is one the reasons that we need to be prayed up. A mentor of mine always told me that prayer and evangelism go hand in hand. It is undoubtedly true.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5: 43 – 48
If we want to reach God Haters, we will need to get on our knees.