For 25 years Paul was rejected by the people with whom he came to share. 25 years! But he kept doing what he was doing and then he was killed for it. He knew firsthand what Jesus meant when he said “The world will hate you.” And yet he kept on. He proclaimed when he was led to proclaim and he was silent when he was led to be silent. He sometimes fled the city at approaching danger and sometimes he stood in the face of it head on. With his special anointing He went all out. Until the end he knew God was with Him. And all this time he considered himself unworthy.
The world will hate you.
How do we respond to such a world? Perhaps it is because I’m getting older or perhaps it is my particular generation, but over the past few years I have been inundated by people who hate Christians. Not just dislike them or think they are annoying (because I dislike some of them too, honestly), but downright hate them. Oh, they will call themselves tolerant and open-minded—for every single other thought system other than Christianity. It’s like saying, “let’s be tolerant and accepting and loving of every single thought system of this world EXCEPT Christianity.” Get them talking about the Christian faith and their words are dripping with disdain. Many of them grew up in the faith and then in their adult years came to some kind of crisis of faith and chose to walk away. Then they tend to go on crusades, trying to hit every single article, blog post, book review, and conversation to let the world know of their anger.
And I have to ask—in your past, who so deeply hurt you that you’ve become this person?
You say that Christians judge, but aren’t you judging here as well? So, why the double standard? You say that we are hypocrites and you’re right- we are. But, aren’t we all? You say that our faith is foolish and that we believe in fairytales. Foolish to the world, maybe, but the “fairytales” we believe in is the belief in hope for healing to a broken world.
Yes, the world is broken. We are broken people. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. Yet, we come to a place of surrender. We fall short, way short. But we live in grace, not condemnation. We live in freedom, not shame. We do our best, but without the grace of God that’s never going to be good enough. We try to love in the best way we know how, but we still mess that up, too. We live forgiven so that we may live. We know the hope to which we are called.
Some people will say that we are brainwashed. Hardly. Some of the greatest thinkers in the world believe in the Christian faith that so binds us. Many grew up in a Christian family and came to accept Christ for themselves as adults. We invite people into honest dialogue. We live in a messy world where grace and truth reside.
Yes, evil does reign. And much of that is done in the name of Christianity. This is so so incredibly sad and our hearts break. There are also many idiots out there who call themselves “Christian” but they really don’t get it either. And we ask for God’s mercy to rain down.
But when the media and others roam the world with their hate for anything with the name “Christian”—rather than engage in honest dialogue—it is discouraging. More than discouraging. Many times I am overwhelmed by it all and I feel a pang of defensiveness spring up in my heart. It makes me angry.
But then I remember the words of Jesus- “the world will hate you.”
What do we do, then?
We keep doing what we’re doing. We keep trying to love people. We keep pointing them to Christ rather than to Christians. We live with the love of Christ in our hearts. We give people the best of what we have even in the face of rejection. We continue to invite people into REAL relationship. And we ask for His strength and mercy and grace to carry us through, inviting others along in the journey with us.