“My dad died last year.” She looked up with tearful eyes. “I prayed that God would save him, and He didn’t. So yeah—I hate God.”
Being a Christian isn’t easy in conversations like these. There is no quick answer and sometimes not even an explanation or defense for what our friends experience. Being a friend to someone who hates God is one of the hardest callings of the Christian life, but it’s not impossible.
Though we all come into this world separated from God by sin, hatred for God is usually the result of painful life experiences: loss, difficulty and abuse, to name a few. Being a friend to someone through or after such experiences and also staying true to your convictions will challenge your faith. It will test your character and your compassion. When trying to reach a friend who wants nothing to do with Christ, keep these three things in mind.
1. Show compassion for her experience.
It can be hard to comprehend the depth of a friend’s pain when we haven’t experienced it ourselves. But where firsthand experience is lacking, compassion fills the gap. We may not be able to identify with the loss of a parent or a terrifying diagnosis, but we can offer our presence and support.
Though our impulse is to find words of comfort when someone is hurting, or to formulate a defense when someone says they “hate God,” there are times when silence is the best option. A show of support—that you will simply be there for your friend as she navigates difficulty or a season of doubt—can go much further than a heated debate.
Acknowledge your friend’s experience as real and show compassion to her. Remember that hatred for God is the result of Satan’s lies about God; lies that your friend believes. Those lies must be destroyed before she will see God clearly, and that won’t happen overnight. Compassion and kindness are the stepping stones to get there.
2. Communicate the nature of sin.
Those who say they hate God usually do so because of an incredible loss or disappointment in their lives. They believe God is the source of their pain, and direct all their anger at Him because of it. Yet God is not the source of evil, but the only source of good. In order for your friend to move beyond hate, she needs to understand the nature of sin—which means you need to understand it, too.
Sin was not God’s plan for this world. Death, pain and suffering all break His heart. He didn’t want this. He wants everyone to be drawn into His arms, to be part of His community and to love one another as He loves them. But when Adam and Eve chose to reject God’s design for the world and do the one thing He forbade them from doing, they chose imperfection, pain, suffering and death over the peace and love of God. And because all of us are descended from Adam, we carry on that curse of sin through each generation.
Knowing where sin comes from reveals why the gospel of Jesus is so great: Jesus came to give people a hope in a hopeless world. God is not the cause of pain; He is the solution.
Because we live in a sin-stained world with people who reject God and His perfect ways, we are affected by disease and abuse. We get hurt by people who hate God. We get touched by the fallen world we live in. But that doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us—and it doesn’t mean God doesn’t love your friend.
3. Exemplify the nature of God.
The truth about sin is important, but just as important is our portrayal of God’s love for this struggling world. We can talk about God’s love to our friends, but if we don’t live it out, they will be left hating God even more.
Our responsibility with unsaved friends is to show the two sides of God’s nature: justice and love. The justice of God never wavers from the truth. We must know God’s truth, plant it in our hearts and stand upon it so we know what is right and wrong in the world. The love of God enables us to show compassion to those who need it most. We share God’s love when we see beyond the bitter words and animosity to the wounded hearts of hateful friends. In so doing, we bring both truth and love to the people in our lives. We bring them Jesus.