Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Why Are Christians Hated?

For the past several weeks, we have been looking at the idea of Christians being persecuted. We looked at Paul's writing to Timothy stating that "all that wanted to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Timothy 4:12). These words trouble many people today because of the certainty that is behind them. Why do Christians have to suffer persecution? Well, to simply put it, because Jesus said it would be so.

As Jesus was sending out his disciples in Matthew 10, he told them plainly what they were to face. The things that they would face would be harsh and unrelenting at times. They would be brought before councils and kings to give witness of him. Jesus told them not to worry about what to say because the Spirit of the Father would give them the words to speak. In the face of great times of trouble, Jesus reminds them who is in control and to whom they are to have allegiance; God and God alone!

Even with Jesus telling his disciples these truths, we may still question why the world hates us so. If we are simply living for Jesus and haven't really bothered anyone, then why hate and persecute us? Jesus gives us the answer in John 15. In this great teaching, Jesus is revealing who he was and how we relate to him. In John 15:5 Jesus says:
"I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." 

Jesus is telling his followers that life in him is a total dependent life. To live means to be in him and him in you. Our life becomes immersed in him and Jesus lives in and through us. This is the Christian life! 

But there is something that we must know as followers, which explains why they world hates us so much. It is found in verses 18 through chapter 16 verse 4. 

"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. Remember the word that I said to you: 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: 'They hated me without a cause.'
"But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
"I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, not me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you."

Please read that text again slowly! 

Jesus reveals to his disciples why the world hated them; they hated him first. Why would people hate Jesus? They hate him because he came and spoke to the world and the world became guilty of its sin. Jesus says that there is no longer any excuse for sin. His very life makes it where we must come face to face with our sinfulness. People do not like this. So this is why they persecuted Jesus and persecute his followers. By this they think they serve God but they are actually showing that they hate God. 

We may not fully understand this but we need not worry. Jesus is providing the Helper to lead us into truth and through the Spirit we will be witnesses of him. We need to know these things so that when these times come, we will not give up. We will be strengthened to stay the course and keep the faith. 

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