14 January 2011

A Reminder that You Will Be Hated

“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.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me." (John 15:18; John 15:19-21)
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Timothy 3:12-13) 
Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. (1 John 3:13)

Why does the world hate those who love and serve Christ? Because the darkness hates the light. Darkness will always team up with darkness in order to oppose the light. A common enemy will always unite, and the light of Christ is a common enemy to all who are in this world.
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.” (John 3:19-21)
"[R]eligious people hate the truth. And they hate the proclaimers of the truth. And so here we are mandated by God to love the world the way He loves the world, granted supernatural capacity to do that, and we find that what we get back is what He got back, hate. And there's a reason for this. Here's the reason: nothing is more precious to a religious sinner than the illusion of his virtue." (John MacArthur, "The Actions of Kingdom Love")
So how do we respond to the world's hatred?
"Bottom line, the believability of the gospel is tied to our loving in ways that sinners can't love." (John MacArthur, ibid.) 
“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. 
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:27-36)
Is this easy to do? No. Does this mean that we walk around, tolerating sin and never speaking truth into the lives of our "enemies?" No.
"And it's not a love that tolerates their iniquity, it's a love that continues to speak into their life the gospel no matter how evil they treat us." (John MacArthur, ibid). 
Christian, expect persecution. Expect hatred. Expect ridicule or perhaps simply indifference. But react in Christian love, continuing to boldly proclaim the truth of the Gospel in the face of whatever hostility confronts you. The darkness loathes the light of Christ which shines from within you, but Christ is far more powerful than the darkness.

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