I was recently on a road trip to visit my relatives and decided to try my luck at the radio dial. While browsing through the stations I stumbled upon a Christian station with a pastor who was talking about how to respond if the world hates you. It caught my attention, so I decided to listen for a few minutes even though I despise talk radio. He said that if the world hates you and rejects you that it’s a good thing because Jesus says “if the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (Jn. 15:18). The pastor then went on to talk about judging a christian by his enemies. He believed that the more enemies you have the better Christian you are because you are living a life rebuking people of their sin.
In today’s world of extremists, rioters, and activists this kind of thinking is very dangerous and counterproductive. It gives all kinds of fundamentalists in any belief or political system a reason to hate and create enemies. It allows too many people to define themselves by what they don’t believe in instead of what they do believe in.
Why would you want to make more enemies by the way that you live?
How can you judge your success by how many people hate you?
What if restaurants followed that system? They could say “the critics just don’t understand us. Let the health inspector close us. That just means our food tastes too good.” It’s rationale for irrational thinking.
That one quote used the way that pastor did, is opposite of Jesus’ entire life. Jesus didn’t live a life with the soul purpose of making enemies. He didn’t seek out people to rebuke, chastise, or condemn. Jesus drew people to him. Do you think 5000 would show up on the side of a mountain to hear someone preach to them about how they’re all going to hell for their actions? Jesus talked about who is blessed and how to inherit the kingdom of heaven. He healed, loved, showed compassion, and said “neither do I condemn you”.
The world that hated Jesus was one that didn’t like being shown up. It saw how much more popular He was for his compassion and caring then they were with their judging and hypocrisy. It didn’t like feeling guilty about what it was doing. The world wanted everything that Jesus had without all the work that He put into it. Therefore it hated and rejected Him.
Rejection and hate go hand in hand. Most people wouldn’t say that Mother Theresa was hated, but she was rejected. She didn’t live for worldly possessions, fame, or glory. Unlike many Christian leaders, she never had a book deal, made a speaking tour, or started a foundation to raise awareness for suffering in India. She was counter-cultural, and by “worldly” standards hated. If the world hates you for loving people that’s one thing. But if the world hates you and casts you off because your just a royal pain, then I think it’s the world that’s got it right and you’re the one that’s screwed up.