By Femi Aribisala
Somebody once asked the late wife of Billy Graham about her relationship with her husband. The person asked her: “Did you ever consider divorce?” “No,” she replied.
“But I considered murder.” Martin Luther was struggling to obey the Ten Commandments. Somebody told him: “Why don’t you just concentrate on loving God instead.” Martin Luther fired back at him: “Love God? Sometimes I hate him.”
At a time in my life, I hated my “old man” T.S.B. Aribisala passionately. When I look back now, I realise that I hated him without a cause. I hated him because I was sinful and rebellious. I hated him because he would not allow me to have my own way. David says something similar about his adversaries: “For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer. And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love.” (Psalm 109:4-5).
The same applies to Jesus, the Son of God. He says: “He who hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both me and my Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.’” (John 15:23-25).
Enemies of God
Are Christians “haters of God?” Do we hate God without realisng or admitting it? “Why do you hate me?” asks God of his people: “My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me.” (Micah 6:3). “What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?” (Jeremiah 2:5). Who indeed can be described as “haters of God?”
Haters of God cannot be atheists. Atheists don’t believe God exists. You cannot hate someone who you claim does not exist, so atheists cannot be said to hate God. Similarly, unbelievers don’t seem to qualify because they don’t know God. You cannot hate someone you don’t know. Therefore for you to be a hater of God, you have to know God or at least have more than passing knowledge of him.
This brings Christians into focus. Christians have more than passing knowledge of God. Therefore, it is quite possible for Christians to hate God. Indeed, although many Christians today don’t seem to realise this, we can easily be classified as enemies of God.
God said to David through Nathan in the issue of his adultery with Bathsheba and his murder of Uriah: “You have despised me.” (2 Samuel 12:10). But how can David, of all people, be said to despise God? He is the man supposed to be “after God’s heart.” (1 Samuel 13:14).
To despise God is even worse than hating him. It means “to look down upon him.” “To view him with contempt, scorn or disdain.” To consider him unworthy of notice or beneath one’s dignity. When we despise someone, we don’t only hate him, we are contemptuous of him. We feel he is beneath our dignity. But how can God possibly be beneath the dignity of man?
Let us just go by God’s own definition, for that is the most important issue. Remember this: his thoughts are not our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8). Jesus says: “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24).
Here we see that God uses hate and despise in the same breath. If we love money, if we love women or men, if we love the world, then, as far as God is concerned, we are haters of God. Jesus also says: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26).
God’s jealous love
The first and principal commandment says: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).
That does not leave room for money, wealth, sex, spouse, children, position, food, the world or anything else. When a man loves God, he loves only God. When a man loves God, he “hates” everything and everyone else. He only loves others because he loves God. When a man loves anything or anybody else but God, he hates God. That is God’s perspective, according to scripture.
Make no mistake about it, God is a jealous God. He is going to deal with all those who hate him. He is not going to use our self-serving definitions of love and hate. He is going to use his.
Every sinner hates God. Every time we sin (by transgressing the law of God), we show that we hate God. Every sinner loves death. God says: “He who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate me love death.” (Proverbs 8:36).
God hates sinners
Christian mythology says God hates sin but loves sinners. This is completely unscriptural. God hates sin and he hates sinners. The psalmist declares about God: “The boastful shall not stand in your sight; you hate all workers of iniquity.” (Psalm 5:5). “The LORD tests the righteous, but the wicked and the one who loves violence his soul hates.” (Psalm 11:5).
Don’t buy the lie: God does not love us just the way we are. He wants us to repent of sin. Neither is the agape love of God unconditional. God’s love is conditional.
He says: “I love those who love me.” (Proverbs 8:17). Again, he says in Hosea: “All their wickedness is in Gilgal, for there I hated them. Because of the evil of their deeds I will drive them from my house; I will love them no more.” (Hosea 9:15).
We cannot know God and his conditional love unless we stop loving sin and God himself becomes our first love. Moses says: “All who behave unrighteously, are an abomination to the LORD your God.” (Deuteronomy 25:16). To what extent are Christian caught in this spider web?
When God called me, he called me by my name, which means “loves me” in Yoruba. He said to me: “Femi, Femi, Femi, I have loved you from the foundation of the world.”
Nevertheless, there is an unchanging truth that has come from my relationship with God: God does not like me. That is why he wants to change everything about me. He does not just want to change some things. He wants to change everything.
Jesus and his disciples did not go around telling everyone: “God loves you.” No! They said: “Repent, for the kingdom of God is near.”
However, the extra-biblical, humanistic gospel prevalent in the churches today de-emphasises the truth of God’s condemnation of sinners and focuses on God’s love for sinners. This misnomer militates against repentance and it has quenched the conviction of the Holy Spirit in the pews.