No one is suggesting that we go out of our way to be offensive, disagreeable and unlikeable. We are to be salt and light, and we are to share Christ’s love with the world. But that love is not sentimental and sweet mush, but is a love based on truth, on holiness, and on righteousness. And those are the sorts of things the world just cannot stand. So we do not seek to provoke or upset nonbelievers – that will simply happen naturally as a result of living holy and godly lives that are pleasing to the Lord.
While it is often claimed by non-believers that Christianity is a hateful religion and Christians are haters, the opposite is actually the case. Ironically it is those who are saying these things who are the real haters. Their blatant Christophobia routinely results in ugly anti-Christian bigotry, hate and persecution. Any true follower of Christ knows all about this.
And there is nothing surprising about all this. It has been happening for 2000 years now. Indeed, from day one Jesus warned that this would in fact be the case, and the New Testament makes it perfectly clear: believers WILL be hated by the world – that is guaranteed.
I just finished reading the gospel of John again and I was struck by how often this matter is discussed. In a book of just 21 chapters I counted at least 21 passages where Jesus directly spoke about this issue! Over and over again in this gospel we not only read about Jesus warning of these things, but we see plenty of clear examples of this hatred being levelled at Jesus.
And what is the main reason for this hatred by the world? Jesus tells us precisely what it is in John 7:7: “it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.” People do not hate Christ, Christians and Christianity because the claims of Jesus are intellectually untenable, or because of vague things like a commitment to religious pluralism, and so on.
They hate Christ and his followers because they are evil people who do evil things, and the holy and righteous life of Jesus offends them. Jesus said the very same thing in John 3:19-31:
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.
There you have it: people love wickedness and evil, and hate the light. Jesus is the light of the world that exposes evil – that exposes the wicked human heart. No wonder people hated Jesus so much. Another example of this can be seen when Jesus told his disciples about his coming death and that he would be leaving them: “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice” (John 16:20).
Yep, the world was certainly glad to see him go. Those who prefer their wicked and sinful lives were always annoyed when Christ was around, and they could not get rid of him soon enough. Things have not changed. The evil world finds Christians who seek to pursue holiness and righteousness to be just as annoying and revolting.
No wonder people still hate his followers two millennia on. The very existence of Christians in a dark and evil world brings offence and animosity to those in the world. They will either become convicted of their sin and turn away from it in faith and repentance to Christ, or they will get even more angry at, and resentful toward, God’s people.
So it should be no surprise at all that when you decide to live fully and consistently for Christ, you will find enmity, opposition, hatred and abuse. This was something Jesus said over and over again. Consider another passage from this gospel – John 15:18-25:
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: “A servant is not greater than his master.”