Jewish people raise a variety of objections about belief in Jesus, ranging from personal to theological/religious and virtually everything in between! As a missionary and evangelist, my task involves discovering a person’s real objections and obstacles to the gospel. Surprisingly, amidst the objection I sometimes also find good questions, and openness to the gospel.
Recently, I was leading a Jewish evangelism class at a local church. I described how to ask about a Jewish person’s worldview and how to look for the real “question behind the question.” Later, a team from the church accompanied us (Chantale Onona, one of our new missionaries, was with me) to go door-to-door in a Jewish neighborhood. There I met Leon, a Jewish man who staunchly denied the existence of God. He’d studied science in university and initially claimed that his objections were scientific. He argued that people who believed in God were simply predisposed to their belief and that “God” was an invention of primitive, uneducated people. We discussed the scientific method and I pointed out that even scientists come to the process with certain assumptions, and those could lead to wrong conclusions about the origin of the universe and a designer. I also presented the extremely low probability of multiple prophecies being fulfilled, and how that pertained to Jesus. Leon had no answer to these observations, or to how I (and many others) have experienced answers to very specific prayers.
As we talked on, Leon explained how his family had gone through the Holocaust. You can imagine how this affected him at a very deep and personal level. He found it incredible that belief in Jesus could save a sinner, while a “good” or “innocent” person who never accepted Jesus would be judged, found guilty and damned. This and many other objections Leon raised are common to those claiming to be atheists. What Leon was expressing had little if anything to do with science; it was all about what he saw as unjust or even immoral actions committed by this theoretical God and/or the community claiming faith in Him. I sensed in Leon an underlying anger towards the God he claimed did not exist. Was this Leon’s real issue? Was he angry with God for pain and loss in his life?
I was surprised when Leon left his contact information with us so that we could have another conversation. Maybe he just wants to debate. In any case, I’ve been given the opportunity to know him a bit more and discover his real objections, and even a possible openness to God and Jesus. Missionary work requires patience, wisdom, skill and listening to be effective. Above all, it requires the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart and life of a person. Please pray for me as I connect with, and minister to, Leon and for God’s working in Leon’s life so that he can no longer deny the God who truly cares for him. Please pray also for the brothers and sisters who joined us from the local church, that God will encourage and bless their efforts.
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