“Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you.”
1 John 3:13 NASB
I don’t like being disliked. I don’t think anyone does. I know not everyone is going to be my best friend, but I’d settle for cordial acquaintances. That, however, is not what God tells me to expect. Forget run of the mill dislike, I’m supposed to expect hatred.
““If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 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, because of this the world hates you.”
John 15:18-19 NASB
I can’t say I’m totally comfortable with this now, as a middle age adult with a family and well established friendships. Imagine how uncomfortable I was with this back when I started college.
When I first started college I believed that nothing was going to slow down my Christian walk. I knew there was going to be folks out there who utterly rejected the Bible and God, but I could stand up to such reject. What I wasn’t expecting to encounter was my own expanding apathy.
I just wanted to get through college and make good grades so I decided to lay low. Laying low turned into blending in. Blending in turned into conforming. Confirming meant that by the end of undergrad most of my friends would have been shocked to discover I was a Christian.
Just a hint, if no one can tell you’re a Christian, you’re doing it wrong.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Romans 12:2 NASB
““You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16 NASB
“But you are A CHOSEN PEOPLE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
1 Peter 2:9-12 NASB
The Bible is pretty clear that if you are a Christian, your friends should know that by the way you live your life. I was not a light, or a city on the hill. I was hiding under a bushel simply because it was easier. The problem with conformity is that it can lead to apathy. You begin to forget that you ever had to be vigilant.
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.”
1 Peter 5:8-9 NLT
“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
Ephesians 6:12 NLT
“For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded. Night is the time when people sleep and drinkers get drunk. But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.”
1 Thessalonians 5:5-8 NLT
Now, not only was I hiding my faith, but I was falling into temptation without even realizing it and living my life totally indistinguishable from those around me who didn’t believe in God at all. My silence and conformity meant that I was condemning myself through silent approval.
“The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves.”
Romans 14:22 NASB
Yes, I know, the context of this verse is talking about eating unclean meat or celebrating certain days etc. but the POINT Paul is making is that you don’t want your example to lead newer Christians astray. You don’t want to be a stumbling block due to what it looks like you’re approving (or partaking) of.
“But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak.”
1 Corinthians 8:9 NASB
““Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!”
Matthew 18:7 NASB
Honestly, it’s easier to hide. No one wants to be hated. However, praise God that even in my unfaithfulness He remains faithful.
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”
2 Timothy 2:13 NASB
While I had allowed myself to fall asleep for far too long, I never denied God. He continued to convict me over and over again. I am particularly stubborn so it took the birth of my son for me to realize that my life really needed to change.
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”
Romans 12:1 NASB
I never understood what “living sacrifice meant” until I became a parent and realized that I’m supposed to be living my life in such a way that my son will be able to see God’s love through me. I had to be different. God entrusted this child to me, and it’s my job to be a good witness to my son. C’s understanding of God and his need for salvation all stem from the example I set, and believe me that kid is watching.
Does that mean I’m comfortable when, in boldly talking about my faith and trying to live my life according to God’s word, I lose old friends? Of course not. That breaks my heart, for many reasons. However, living for Christ is the whole reason I’m here.
“But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.”
1 Peter 3:14-17 NASB
I’m still learning to live with being hated. The way the world is going it will only get worse so I have to get tougher. I have to teach my son to be stronger than I am. It’s worth it though. It’s definitely worth it.