What about all those people who didn’t know God?
4th Aug 2010Posted in: blog View Comments
What about all those people who didn’t know God?

Sitting over coffee, which is how I prefer to sit, I was listening to her say to me, “What about all those people long ago who didn’t know about God or Jesus? You know, the Aztecs, Incas? What about the little aboriginal boy in the outback? Are you telling me God is sending them to hell because they worship other gods?”

Have you ever been in my seat? How’d you answer? How would you answer? Like a sizzling piece of bacon… might not be the best response.

I’ve heard this same question from many my agnostics and atheists friends. It’s as if that question is carved into their thought like every public bathroom wall has carvings of phone numbers begging you to “dial for a good time.” I have to admit it’s a frustrating question for me because it involves people from long ago, that I don’t know and most of them, I’m pretty sure all of them, have been dead for quite a while. I often find it unfair to be placed in a judgment seat that has been reserved for the Creator of everything I know and don’t know.

After a sip of coffee, (more like several gulps of coffee, two refills, 53 cries out to the Lord in prayer for help), I said to her, “why are you being so judgmental?” I think I caught her off guard. I believe her questions had been intended that I was the judgmental one.

“I’m not Jesus. He is merciful and gracious in ways I can never understand and I find it uncomfortable that you would want me to tell you if these people, that I’ve never met, are in hell. So let’s not talk about them… let’s talk about you and me. Right here. Right now.”

This is what we have to work with. Right here… Right now.

There’s a story in the bible about Paul, the apostle, who spoke to a group of people that had worshipped lots of idols for a long time. They were from Athens, home of the Clash of the Titans, and among all their idols to their gods, they even had an idol noted to, “an Unknown god.”

The following is a portion from the book of Acts chapter 17:22-31 CEV. Paul, starts right there by saying, “I see that you are very religious…” He doesn’t blast them by telling them who’s in and who’s out. He starts by calling them religious and he finishes by saying,

“Since we are God’s children, we must not think that he is like an idol made out of gold or silver or stone. He isn’t like anything that humans have thought up and made. In the past, God forgave all this because people did not know what they were doing. But now he says that everyone everywhere must turn to him. He has set a day when he will judge the world’s people with fairness. And he has chosen the man Jesus to do the judging for him. God has given proof of this to all of us by raising Jesus from death.”

I love how Paul doesn’t get all caught up in the “what about all those people who worshipped our idols?’ fiasco… (interestingly enough, he says God forgave all this because people did not know what they were doing). Rather, he says, “But now…”

Since we are God’s children… Right here, right now… you and I are asked to turn to Him.

I believe Jesus will judge the world with fairness according to His word… but in all fairness when it comes to judging, let’s not spend our time judging people we’ve never met.


special thanks to Evolnosaj68 for getting me out of the candy bin and reminding me to blog from the heart. This was not easy to write about. I’m sure there are a lot of opinions on this subject. Let’s just remember that Jesus commanded us to, “Love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.”

Related Posts
  • Wendy Goodyear

    I have always felt that saying “It's not my place to judge, but God's” was a cop-out; like I should be able to come up with a better answer. It is my prayer that during the many times that this subject has come up in conversation that I the conversation was finished in a manner that helps everyone understand that God's judgment is what matters not mine. I like the words of David in Psalm 19: 1 – 6:

    1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
    2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they display knowledge.
    3 There is no speech or language
    where their voice is not heard.
    4 Their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.

    It is through this scripture that I take comfort in knowing that God has and continues to make himself known to the world throughout time…not just during this modern age of print and electronics.

    And, as always, I am thankful that I am not the judge, because I am sure that my judgment is faulty most of the time when compared to God's judgment.

  • Jae

    Deep question that I've pondered about many times with no real answer then to go with faith in what I know. One of my brothers is an atheist and have found sometimes they are just looking for an argument and no answer will be enough for him

  • Gerald

    Excellent blog Jono. It would be interesting some day to do an in-depth study on “judgment” and what it really entails. Ravi Zacharias made an interesting point once, that those who state Christians or God shouldn't judge are in fact making strong judgments themselves. Paul does give a call to judge, but within the church (body) context. I do not believe his inference is that we judge based on obedience to rules which have been made (by someone or interpreted by someone) but more fairly to judge relational issues and how they affect the body and the life of Christ within.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Switch to our mobile site