If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. (John 15:18-19)
Christians shouldn’t be surprised at the judgments, retaliations, and hate they receive. We know it’s coming. I’m not saying we should revel in it and seek it out, but if we follow Jesus, we will have tension with the world, to say the least. It’s not because we did anything horribly wrong, but if someone hates Jesus, and we associate with Jesus, it stands to reason that we will be hated.
And to be honest, we sometimes feed into the hate fervor. We experience attack, judgment, or retaliation—and remember, it’s because we have claimed the side of Jesus—and we don’t reflect Him in our response. We get defensive. We declare our rights. We fight fire with fire, or hate with hate in this case. We can’t claim to be in the world but not of it, then fight with the tactics of the world.
I see it all the time in the news media and especially on social networks. Something happens like a Christian “celebrity” makes a statement that declares a biblical truth that isn’t popular in our culture, an athlete loses an endorsement or gets a less-lucrative contract because of his faith, or the Christian perspective doesn’t get the same air time as the secular perspective…and it’s all over social media. Websites are created declaring “I support so-and-so.” We change our profile photos, stir up the arguments about free speech and discrimination laws. We want fairness and justice! Oh, and we throw in that we just want to make sure people know the truth…and obviously, since we have it, we need to share it.
If we’re so focused on fairness and justice, why are we abandoning God’s ways for the world’s? Why are we responding in the same way that the world would respond? How can we be noticed as being set apart from the world if we pretty much look like the world, just under a different banner. Not to mention how offensive it must be to God for us to place His name over the whole thing. We can’t have it both ways. We either stand and live under His name and make sure what we’re doing reflects and glorifies Him, or we live contrary to His ways and adopt the ways of the world.
I’m not saying we should never fight. God stirs up a holy unrest in us. He absolutely has us fight…for Him. But His ways are different than the worlds. It’s not just about tactics; it’s about motivation and intent. God fights evil with love. I’m not talking about the sappy kind of love that says, “You’re okay. I’m okay. Let’s get along.” God is not only love but also justice…as well as mercy, judgment, kindness, forgiveness, and rebuke. He exists with all of those characteristics in harmony. He doesn’t choose when to respond with which one. He responds with them all, all the time.
We can’t seek justice without love. We can’t show compassion without rebuke. We can’t judge without mercy. If we do, we’re not authentic ambassadors for God. In fact, our hypocritical responses tarnish His name. When people see us as His followers, and we don’t follow well, it’s not us who bears the brunt of the response. It’s God. I know He can handle it, but He shouldn’t have to through truly faithful followers.
Dear God, I want to fight only the battles You intend for me to fight, and I want to fight them only in the ways that glorify You. Challenge me to set aside my own preferences and respond only when and how You prompt. I am Yours, and I want no defenses that resemble the world. I want to be set apart and reflect You in all things, including the way I deal with accusations, attacks, and persecution.