I don’t think anyone will disagree with me when I say that there are a lot of things wrong in the world today. I think a few people will start disagreeing with me when I say it’s always been that way and we don’t really have much of a right to be surprised by it. I’ve heard people bemoan the state of current events and that they can’t believe things would ever get like this. With love, I want to suggest that they absolutely should believe it and they should have been anticipating it.
We were never promised comfortable Christian lives, why do we keep expecting it? The Bible makes it clear time and time again what kind of treatment we could expect if we are living our lives for Christ. In Matthew 10: 22 we are told “And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
What about 2 Timothy 3:12? “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,”
Even in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus outlines what we can expect in verses like Matthew 5:10-12: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Or even simply put in 1 John 3:13: “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.”
But, oh, we are surprised all right, and it’s momentum lost. As Christians, we have the responsibility to not be tripped up by the world’s hatred of us. This world was never meant to be our home. Why are we wasting precious time trying to make it? Contrary to how many people feel, the state of the world is not some new trend that we need to try and reverse.
We’re not trying to stop an invasion, we’re the resistance operating out of an occupation. A lot of things would have been different if the Danes and the Dutch had simply said: “I can’t believe the Nazi’s invaded! That’s made my life so difficult!” and left it at that, holding on to some ideal of how things should have been. Everything about World War II would have changed if they had just rolled over and accepted what was happening to them on the basis that it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. Instead, they went to work, resisting in every way they feasibly could, showing the world that they didn’t belong to what had happened to their country and that they were actively working against it.
Whether we’re reading about persecution in the news, experiencing it ourselves, or just experiencing opposition in general, we need to understand that it comes with the territory. If you’re going to stand up and follow Christ, you need to understand that there are some big players out there who would very much like you to not.
Truthfully, the fact that we struggle in the first place is weirdly complimentary. If the world is taking such pains to slow you down and stop you, it might just mean you are part of something worth slowing down and stopping. When we come to terms with this, it shortens our reaction time to hardship. It takes out the middleman that would say, “I think you ought to slow down and feel sorry for yourself right about now.”, and instead makes us look at how we can be serving Christ.
We can also take comfort in knowing why were are being hated: John 15: 18-19 “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.”
You are chosen and loved by the God of the universe, and that is worth every bit of hatred this little, old world can throw at you.
At the end of the day, we need to stop being surprised when we are met with aversion for our faith in Christ and we need to start reacting like we’ve been expecting this because it’s all part of the bigger picture that we get to be a part of.
Be comforted, but not comfortable. Christianity is going to be a bumpy ride.