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The Conspiracy of Hate

April 5, 2016

First Question:  Did the world hate Jesus?

Second Question:  Did Jesus promise the world will hate us too?

If you answered “yes” to those questions without blinking an eye you are probably an evangelical.  This is the standard straight-from-the-Bible stuff we’ve been raised on.  Forget all those complex formulas on how to determine who is, and is not, an evangelical; this is an easy test because, hey, Jesus did actually say this.

But let’s think about this for a minute.  You see that knee-jerk two-step leads, more often than not, to a third step in our contentious culture.  The rationale goes like this:

  1. Everybody hated Jesus.
  2. Jesus said they’d hate us too.
  3. Since everybody hates me I am clearly doing something right.

We use that logic to excuse ourselves for being jerks more often than I care to count and end up congratulating ourselves because we’ve made people angry.  But consider the first point in that logic.  Yes, Jesus said that “the world” hated Him but did everybody hate Him?  The crowds of people following Him seem to imply that the answer is no.  The tax collectors and sinners who gladly took meals with Him seem to give the same answer.  Jesus was often so mobbed that He needed to find a way to slip off and pray.

So who did hate Jesus?  If it was not everybody then is it possible that his promise that “the world” will hate us too doesn’t mean everybody?  So, I repeat, who did hate Jesus?  The answer seems to be those in political and religious power.  Those in political power could not stand His message that the poor are blessed and the meek inherit the earth.  Those in religious power could not stand that the people they considered outcasts and lowlifes were the very ones Jesus welcomed.

If this is true we have a clue as to when we are indeed being hated by the world in the same way Jesus was; the clue being who it is that hates us.  If we are hated by the gay customer we refuse to serve, we can’t use Jesus as an excuse.  If we are hated by the young woman we called a murderer because she had an abortion, we can’t use Jesus as an excuse.  If we are hated by a neighbor, co-worker or family member who we have been relentlessly confronting about some sin in their lives we can’t use Jesus as an excuse.

We’ve been studying 1 John in our Sunday School class.  I was looking ahead to chapter 4 and the passages about love.  In I John 4:7-12 John gives a three-step commentary on love:

  1. “Love is from God.” The source, the author, the reality of love comes from God.
  2. Love was “made manifest” though Jesus. We can see and understand love because of Him.
  3. “His love is perfected” in us. The only way the world can see the love of God is through us.

There is no conspiracy of hate against us.  Our mission is to show and demonstrate the love of God to a world in need.  Nobody else can do it.  If we are being hated by those around us who are today’s equivalent of tax collectors and sinners – and not the politically powerful and religious gate-keepers – then perhaps the problem is us.

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From → Christianity

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