The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.
– John 7:7

One of the struggles we face as Christians is living above reproach in the world so the message of the gospel holds integrity. We are told to “walk with wisdom towards outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each one” (Colossians 4:5-6). The Bible tells us we should live above reproach. The inference is that if we live holy lives that it will have a positive effect for our own reputation and credibility of the gospel.

On the other hand Jesus indicates here to His men that He exposes the evil works of mankind. The result is that the world has a hatred towards Jesus because He throws light on the evil of their attitude, values and behavior.  Luke 6 quotes

Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets. [1]

This is not our normal ambition for our week. Most of us would rather have a good reputation, have some great friends and get along with those around us. But this problem is one that seems to be inevitable in the ebb and flow of life. But notice that this is not been persecuted because we act like jerks or we end up making bad decisions that hurt other people or we act selfishly. Too many Christians are “persecuted” and act like martyrs when they have made bad decisions, failed to follow through on responsibilities or a number of other nonsense choices and then wonder why people are on their back and getting in their face about things.

This hate is specifically because we suffer for the sake of Jesus. This means that we choose his righteousness, His kindness, forgiveness or something else that places Christ before my ambitions or success and others are antagonistic towards our choices. Sometimes this is doing the right thing at work when the boss asks me to do something wrong and then catching some flak for not doing what the boss asked us to do (1 Peter 2:18-20). We have to be careful on this because some issues are matters of preference not morality – we are not to start demonstrations or protests but to do what is right. Paul said that we are to be respectful and submissive to authorities that we live under (Romans 13:1; Colossians 3:22-4:1).

Suffering for Christ can also include sharing the gospel. This may seem obvious but this is where many of us struggle. The obvious issue is not always that we share but how we share. Sometimes we get ourselves in trouble because we are disrespectful or condescending towards others or what they believe and then wonder why we catch their frustration. Suffering on behalf of Christ has a certain pristine authenticity about suffering only because of our relationship with Christ, not our bad behavior.

We are forced to live in this tension of living above reproach and learning that no effort can compensate for the world’s hostility to Christ. The Bible tells us we should learn to accept weakness, persecutions and calamities for when we are weak then we are strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). We are called to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). When we do we act with the same love that God has shown us (Matt. 45, 48). It is a challenge but God calls us to a different way of life – above reproach even in the face of hostility.

Pastor Brad

[1]The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Lk 6:22–23). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.