Today is August 17, 2010. In eight days I will be back at Taylor University, about to begin my sophomore year of college. I will study hard, I will hang out with friends, I will exhort my brothers and sisters, and I will be hated. Wait… what? Hated? No, surely not at a private Christian college. No way will people hate you for your love of Christ. Wrong. Why will I be hated? Well, most importantly, because the Bible says so. Here is one example:
“Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matt. 10:21-22)
The essence of that verse is echoed throughout the gospels.
I have an idea! Let’s go through the who, what, when, where, why, and how of us being hated! Woo! We will use the passage above as a primary reference in answering these questions.
“You.” You will be hated. Here, Jesus is talking to his disciples. So technically, in this instance, Jesus is talking to his disciples. But, most of the time, we take things Jesus says to his disciples and apply them to our lives, since we, as followers of Christ, are his disciples. So, I think it is a safe bet to say that Jesus is saying here that all followers of him, not just the Twelve, will be hated for his name’s sake. No one is exempt, you are not the exception. If you are a follower of Christ, you will be hated by others for it. My question is this: does anyone hate you because you claim the name of Christ? If not, do people even know you proclaim the name of Christ?
This is a bit of a stretch, but we are going to say the what is “hated.” We will be what? We will be hated. The Random House dictionary definition of hate is: to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest. Jesus says in the sermon on the mount that if you hate a person in your heart you have killed him. You are just either scared of the consequences, or haven’t found a good time to do it yet. Matthew 24:9 says, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.” So, as far as the world hating the followers of Christ, not only will the world hate us inwardly, but it may just come out and put us to death.
The passage we are using does not say specifically when or for how long we will be hated, however it does acknowledge that there will be an end: “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matt. 10:22b) That is comforting. But I think it’s safe to say that we will be hated as followers of Christ until Jesus comes back to reign as king.
Again, the passage we are using does not address where we will be persecuted, however the verse immediately following our passage does a good job illustrating this point. It reads, “When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” (Matt. 10:23) This verse pretty much shows that you aren’t safe anywhere. It doesn’t say “If they persecute you in one town, flee to the next,” it reads, “When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next.” There is no utopia, there is no safe haven for Christians on earth. We are ambassadors to this place, we are foreign, we are alien. You’ll realize soon if you haven’t already, that we often aren’t welcome because of who we find our value in.
Our passage is very clear in telling us why we will be hated. “for my name’s sake.” We will be hated because of Christ. I think we have to be careful here. I know I do, at least. I am a very confrontational kind of guy. Often times, and people who know me well can attest to this, I will tell you about a problem I see in your life without taking into consideration your feelings. This is a blessing in the sense that I never fall into a lifestyle of people pleasing, but it is a curse in the fact that I often make people tune out whatever I have to say. We have to be careful that when we are hated, it is because of our love for Christ, not our Bible-thumping, legalistic tendencies. It’s not wise to cause people to hate you, that is ill-advised. Because, chances are, if you are attempting to get people to hate you, they will be hating you justly. But, the hatred Jesus is speaking about here is a hatred derived from our love of him.
We will be hated in numerous ways. We will be put to death (Matt. 24:9), we will be run out of towns (Matt. 10:23), we will be slandered against (1 Peter 3:16), mocked (Matt. 27:31), among others. Pretty much, we can expect to be hated as Christ was hated. Simple as that.
If you publicly proclaim the name of Christ you will be hated. But the good news is this, ““If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” (John 15:18) Jesus has been there. It happened to him first. Take comfort in that, find peace in that. Jesus has been there, go to him when you’re hated.