On a certain level this would appear true. Tolerance is proclaimed but try suggesting Christian morals are the absolutes society should follow. Religious discrimination is bad except when that religion happens to be Christianity. Religious freedom is good except when that freedom extends to a nurse praying with patients, a registrar refusing to marry gay partners to fire chiefs banning prayers at Remembrance Day service. Headscarves are in whilst Christian jewellery is out. All over the world there are Christians who are persecuted, tortured and killed for their beliefs. All over the world there are Christians who are not free to worship the God they believe in. All over the world Christians are martyrs for Christ.
The world hates Christians. A seemingly fair point. But the problem with this view is that it can fast become a persecution complex. Christians begin to hate the world that hates them. Bitterness, anger and vexation become the order of the day rather than love, pity and mercy.
So what is the solution? How do we retain an accurate opinion of the world’s opinion on us whilst making sure we don’t hate them for it?
As per usual the answer lies in the teaching of the Bible.
“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 v 18 - 19
Our starting point should always be to lose our egos. The world does not hate us because we are Christians par excellent. No, it hates us because the world hates the Lord Jesus Christ. And we should recognise that we are only prevented from hating God because Jesus chose us out of the world. We cannot even boast in the fact that we are hated. Instead we must see that hatred of God is the root of hatred of Christians.
“Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.”
John 15 v 20 – 21
If we think that the world hates us because of us then we are putting ourselves above Jesus. The world persecuted and crucified Jesus and it will attempt to do the same to us. It should help as well to see that the world does not know the one who sent Jesus, i.e. God the Father. Should we hate them for that? I think not, instead we should pity them.
“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’”
John 15 v 22 – 25
In Romans Paul echoes the point Jesus makes which is that men are without excuse. God has revealed himself through creation, through sending his Son to earth in human form and through his Word and the faithful proclaiming of it.
“The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
Romans 1 v 18 – 20
The very hatred the world shows Christians is the same hatred that is against God and the same hatred that condemns them as rebels before God. And we were once with the world! We hated God, we despised Christians and rebelled against all that is good. Yet God, in his love and mercy, choose to save us from this wretched state. How then can we react with anything other than mercy and love when we see the hatred of the world around us? We were once like them and to hate them is to shame ourselves for forgetting the love that God has showed us.
So what if they hate us? In fact, the more they hate us the more they prove God's word to be true. But we cannot allow ourselves to hate the world back. We need to love those who are lost in the ways of darkness and have compassion on those that hate us.
God loved and chose us despite the fact we were in open rebellion against him. Therefore, we love those that hate us. A concept which is so Christian they'll probably hate us all the more. But that's fine for what matters is not the opinion of man but the Word of God.
And as Jesus says elsewhere:
“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Matthew 5 v 44 - 45
The world hates us because it hates God. We love the world because we love God because he first loved us. Simples.