Any person who makes the choice to follow Christ will suffer. It is not an easy walk to stand up for the truth and for Christ Jesus in a world where anything goes. Jesus gives us fair warning that if we choose to follow him we will be hated, but here in this section he says that we should rejoice when men hate you for his sake for we are blessed by God.
Why do men Hate Christians?
Christians stand for a set of values that are at odds with the way the people of the world think and behave. What many people think is acceptable is sin in the sight of God. The basic position of many people is that they will do whatever they can get away with, as long as you don’t get caught. Jesus said in John 15:18-21;
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.
19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.
21 But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me.
When a Christian stands up for what is right they are at odds with the rest of the world. They are saying in effect that what others are doing is wrong when the rest of the world says it is OK. When a person stands up for what is right, especially when they have to go against the crowd, they are saying in effect, “I will have no part of this wrongdoing,” and the others recognise that they have been found wanting. Thus the crowd hates the Christian because their own lack of moral fibre, honesty and integrity has been found wanting or lacking.
They hate Christians because they stand up for Jesus and for what is right. And yet Christians do not do any wrong to these people. It is as Jesus said at the end of the section above, “They hated me without a cause.” (John 15:25)
Reality Television – the Truth of the Hearts of Men
There have been a spate of reality television programs in recent times that show this attitude of man. In fact “reality television” is a good name for what they do because what is being shown is the truth of what is in the hearts of men. The programs I refer to are things like the police shows where they pull over drunk or speeding drivers for testing and arrest. There are also border security programs showing the way customs officers do their job to uphold the customs laws and stop illegal substances and illegal aliens entering the borders of the country they protect.
What is interesting in all of these cases when people are caught is their reaction. They try to lie their way out and only tell the truth when the lies fail. But there also no remorse in any of them. The attitudes are often along the lines of why are the police picking on them instead of chasing “real” criminals. They get angry, but the anger is against their captors because they got caught. They try to blame someone else or the system rather than themself for doing the wrong thing.
Blessings When They Hate You
Jesus said that when men hate you for His sake you will be blessed. He says to be joyful and to rejoice when men hate you without a cause for the sake of your stand with Christ. Why is that? There are two reasons that come to mind.
The first is the one stated in the scriptures that says, “…your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.” (Verse 23) The first reason we should be joyful is that we have a reward with God. When we stand up for what is right God rewards us. And indeed we often even see some of that in this world for although these men may hate us, they sometimes will also respect the stand that we take.
The second reason we should be joyful when we are hated for Christ’s sake is that it is proof that we are doing something right. If the Lord says we will be hated and it happens, then we must be on the right track. But be careful you are not hated for doing wrong. It is only when you are hated for doing right and standing up for the truth of Jesus Christ that this blessing is pronounced.
(Picture sourced from stock.xchng http://www.sxc.hu taken by Felix Atsoram)