From The World's View

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Jesus told his closest disciples, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first..." "If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also..." But Why Jesus? (John 15: 18, 20b)

Many people can answer our question "why" in a multitude of ways, and be correct as to why we are hated and persecuted as Christians. But here's the bottom line. I know it's the bottom line because Jesus followed the above words with these words, "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 15:19)

Not everyone outside of Christ hates us, but so many do and according to Jesus, it's because we choose to not be a child of this world. It continues to mystify me as to why that is. If we choose to be a mouseketeer, and place all of our faith and trust in ole Mickey and Minnie Mouse, our world would have no issue with us except maybe to recommend a padded room for us. Most that do hate us place God and our Lord Jesus in the same make-believe category as Mickey Mouse, yet they can't leave it at that. For some mysterious reason, our decision to believe somehow gives rise to hate and brings about persecution from them.

What drives such hate? In my humble opinion, I think there are numerous things. I firmly believe in some cases, it's due to guilt on the part of the unbeliever, which means they are not 100% sure that they don't believe, but they don't want to and the human response is retaliation and anger. Likely that and the majority of other reasons are beyond our ability to improve, control, or limit. People get to make up their own minds and rule their own hearts. But maybe there are a few times we have a limited window of opportunity to improve the hate situation a bit. Here's what I'm trying to get to.

Whether or not we are guilty, Christians are accused constantly of judging others. God talks about a righteous judgment (John 7:24) and God tells us that we shall know people by their fruits (Matt 7:16). Some believers (I pray only a small portion) go beyond what God requires, and they judge in unrighteous ways, elevating themselves to a position God forbids. Certainly not all believers do that, but we usually all get lumped together. We are not qualified to judge men's hearts. That is reserved for our Creator. Let us leave that for Him.

We also talk about good works, and so does God. He requires them, (Matt 5:16) and commands we do them. He also wants us to show them to the ungodly, so that they might see and believe. Somewhere along the way, the lines get blurred, and believers may believe and even claim to be better somehow. It becomes a comparison between us and them, when our only comparison should be to the standard of holy scripture. We know we are not better, only different because of His Grace. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God", (Rom 3:23) and all the good works in the world can't earn us righteousness. But while we are trying to be good, others who are not of the same mindset are offended by that. It should not work that way, but it does. Demonstrating that we love others as ourselves (Mark 12:31) will help them to understand, and will help to keep us humble.

Another realism is that we aren't perfect, and we can't be, and certainly we know that. We are saved, but not perfect, not better, and not privileged, just forgiven. Christ came to save sinners, (1 Tim 1:15) and that's us! But in trying to live right and help others to do so as well, we get labeled hypocrites when we mess up. Perhaps we are exactly that at times, but our goal is to get it right, even though we can never totally achieve that. The world will see our human weaknesses at times, and that's OK. Let us use our failures as opportunities to explain why we need God's Grace so desperately.

Finally, and maybe this last one is just me, but I feel like I never spend enough time or effort to 'keep me on God's good side'. I get to the end of the day, and know I didn't do all I could. I feel guilty. Some of that is healthy, don't get me wrong, as long as we understand that God desires devotion inspired by our relationship to Him, and not due to some obligation to get our cards punched. Christianity is not a "Brownie point" system, even though it is sometimes misunderstood and perceived that way by our world. Let the world see us striving to live righteously, and let us explain that it's not a check off list we live by, but a way of way of life we desire to achieve because of the love God has shown and the Grace He has offered. (Ps 37:4)

As we try to live according to God's standard let us attempt, using every opportunity given us, to convince the world around us that God loves them equally with us. Let's show them that God forgives sinners, which we were and still are, and that we don't earn His righteousness. Let us do our best to not be seen as hypocrites, but when we fail, to help the world understand we are human, and God forgives those who are seeking to do His will according to His plan of redemption. We have enough hatred from certain people in the world as it is, let us not magnify the problem with our own speech or conduct, but rather in love, reveal our God to all, because He calls all to repentance.