Friday, February 11, 2011

You Are Hated! So What Are You Going To Do About It?

Can I tell you, people don't like you? That's hard for some people to hear but it is the truth according to the Word of God. You can do everything possible to be liked; do nice things, smile a lot, never say anything against anyone, be extremely generous but you will still be on the "not liked" list of many people. Can I also tell you that the number of people who don't like you is going to grow? The problem isn't really you but the one who lives in you. They don't like the Jesus in you and the reason is pretty clear; if a person is without Christ they belong to the enemy of God, the false prince of this world.

From the moment Jesus arrived on this planet the enemy has used people to plot against him. The first was king Herod who plotted to kill Jesus as a baby even if it meant he had to kill hundreds, if not thousands of innocent children. But the heat was really turned up when Jesus started to proclaim the good news and cast out demons. Many times in this short three year period they tried to lay hands on him but every time Jesus was untouched, because it was not yet time. However, here in Matthew 26 Jesus warns his disciples that his arrest was only 2 days away and we read of the plot:

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him. “But not during the Feast,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.” (Matthew 26:3-5)

Jesus warned us that they are plotting against us in the same way, because they hate us as much as they hate him:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you." (John 15:18-19)

Being hated because of Christ in us is a fact so we need to realize a few things in order to allow everything to make perfect sense. It is not the people who hate us but the dark force behind them. Let's make this perfectly clear. The people of the world cannot see because their heart and mind is kept in the darkness of the enemy's influence. Their hating us makes not sense, it is illogical even according to the standards of this world but it is the influence of the dark forces:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

Jesus' fight was not against the people of this world but against the enemy of God. It is for this reason he cast out demons and then shared the good news. This was his message:

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17)

When his disciples wanted to call the hire of heaven down on the cities that had rejected Jesus, Jesus corrected them:

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went to another village. (Luke 9:51-56)

Jesus made it clear what we are to do in the face of hatred, persecution, and prejudice:

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:32-36)

As the times get tougher, and they will, and we become the focus of hatred for more people so we have a responsibility to maintain who we are in Jesus. In fact, we have the great responsibility of revealing to the world who Jesus is in us. We do this by the manner in which we choose to stand in the face of such hatred. If we react according to our flesh and we lash out in defense, then we will ruin the witness we have been given. However, if we stand in the boldness of the faith we have been given, loving as Jesus loved, forgiving as Jesus forgave, showing mercy as he showed mercy then Jesus will be glorified through us and our "light and momentary" troubles will be well worth it. But we have to choose to "stand" with style. No weeping and mourning because our hope is greater than anything this world can do to us. Ours is a great joy:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)

As disciples of Jesus we need to quickly learn that joy in the face of all opposition is the true mark of faith. It is when we have learned that the joy of the Lord, the joy of this incredible relationship is the only sustenance that is required, we will truly become lights in this dark world:

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

When words are no longer possible the world will remember us for our actions, especially those that were taken when we faced their hatred. Our first concern cannot be for ourself just as it was not Jesus' first concern when they came to arrest him to take him to the cross. In those moments we must be willing to set aside our self-preservation and allow his character to shine out from us, in all his beauty, love, grace, mercy and forgiveness. Yes, Shine Jesus Shine because this joy that we have, the world didn't give it to us.


No comments: