Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Being Hated Is Not Abnormal

What were your expectations when you accepted Jesus? I guess that depends on what you were being told at the time. It is unfortunate that we are not always forthcoming in our desire to see people accept the salvation Jesus offers. After all, salvation is of far greater worth than anything in this world. Regretfully it means some people have wrong expectations, but that is not Jesus' fault. He made it clear what we should expect:

If the people of this world hate you, just remember that they hated me first. If you belonged to the world, its people would love you. But you don’t belong to the world. I have chosen you to leave the world behind, and that is why its people hate you. Remember how I told you that servants are not greater than their master. So if people mistreat me, they will mistreat you. (John 15:18-20)

Not exactly what we start with when we are presenting Jesus to someone, but it is the truth. It is not God's desire but is the natural result when you have a righteous, holy people living among rebellious nations. The nature of this world is rebellion; rebellion against God and all things connected to God. We read this scripture:

Don’t mistreat someone who has mistreated you. But try to earn the respect of others, and do your best to live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:17-18) 

"Do your best" has also been translated as "as far as it depends on you". Peace requires an agreement between two parties but as long as there is rebellion against God there can be no peace. We try but don't be disappointed when you find people at odds with you. Don't be surprised when people don't want to be your friend and they hate you for unreasonable reasons. It is not so much you as it is the Christ in you that makes their rebellion obvious. They don't want to be reminded that there is a right and wrong in the world, and your life is a reminder.

Apostle Paul didn't beat around the bush when he wrote to Timothy:

Anyone who belongs to Christ Jesus and wants to live right will have trouble from others. (2 Timothy 3:12)

We don't want trouble, we don't look for it and we don't enjoy it when it happens but neither should we be surprised. The important thing is to allow the Spirit to direct you in these times and don't allow your flesh to dictate the day. How you handle trouble may the biggest sermon you ever preach. It may be exactly what people need to see to know that your faith in Jesus is real. The Word says that God uses all things and we need to handle all circumstances in our lives with such a faith.

Always, always, always remember that it isn't about us. If you feel offended you had better examine your heart again because it doesn't sound like your dead enough. Our life is no longer ours so how can we be offended. If someone comes against us they are actually coming against Jesus and I think Jesus can defend his own. We have not been given to defend ourselves but instead to stand our ground. We are given words and abilities to fight for those who are coming against us. Yes, we fight for them because we love those who hate us and we pray for those who persecute us. That is what Jesus told us to do.

Following Jesus requires a lot more than singing worship songs. It requires faithfulness and obedience at all times, in all things. We live for Jesus not for ourselves and we will face whatever we must in his authority. That's why we can keep on singing, keep on dancing, keep on loving and forgiving even as the stones are thrown and the whips come down. We are not of those who grow weary and fall away but in the strength and the joy of our Lord we press on.

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