Read John 15:18-21
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than its master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they would obey yours also.
Have you ever been hated for being a Christian?
I remember being at a get together once, and an old friend seemed to be annoyed by my very presence. He was not a believer, but he knew that I was. In fact, he knew the way he was speaking and behaving was likely not something I would “approve of” as a Christian. He was defensive and angry towards me even though I had not spoken a word in judgment towards him. Just by sitting beside him, I offended him. Why? My very presence pointed out his sin to him.
Jesus said a lot of things that offended a lot of people. They still offend people today. He said things like “no one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). In Matthew 6:24, he said you can’t love God and money. He suggested that we love our enemies instead of hating them (Matthew 5:44). He commanded that those who follow Him “take up their cross” and “deny himself” and “lose his life for My sake” (Matthew 16:24-26).
In Matthew 23, He openly criticized the most religious men in the world, the scribes, and Pharisees. He called them hypocrites and condemned them. And yes, His very presence points out our sin to us. When we sit next to Him, His perfect goodness makes us look bad.
As Christians, we believe the truth of the Gospel only because God softened our hearts to be able to receive the message. Because we believe Jesus, just our very presence can offend those who have rejected Him. 1 Corinthians 1:18 tells us that “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.”
If you are ever hated or persecuted for being a Christian, do not be surprised. They hated Jesus first. But do never compromise the truth of the Gospel in order to avoid offending someone. The message of the cross is the power of God for those who are being saved.
Jesus, I know that I am a sinner but that I am saved by grace through faith in You alone. Give me the courage to stand for this truth even when I am hated or persecuted for putting my trust in You. Amen.