“People will deliver you up to tribulation and will kill you, and you will be objects of hatred by all the nations on account of my name.”
I don’t feel the hate. That may be a problem. If the consequence of being a follower of Jesus is to be an “object of hate.” I want to be hated. Don’t get me wrong. I can feel the growing “hate” of Christians in general. I don’t think that’s enough. I think the hate has to be personal. It has to be based on me, what I believe, and more importantly what I do.
What did Jesus do to be hated?
If I can identify what Jesus did to be hated, maybe I can adjust my behavior to earn some hate.
He Called Out Empty Religion
It seems that Pharisees really got steamed when Jesus called out their empty religion. These guys were really good at religion. They carried the law out to ridiculous extremes. They loved their religion. They relished ceremony. They were comfortable hanging out in the temple. They could quote the law.
They remind me of some folks today. I know people who are at church every time the doors are open but are mean, nasty people. There are lovers of complex theology who have no love in their hearts. I know some who have the look of piety down, but are blind to poverty and pain in others. These type “hate” it when they are called on their empty religion.
Sometimes I can fall into this. I’m comfortable at church. I enjoy studying scripture more than living it. Sometimes I wear poverty and pain blinders. I have work to do.
He Hung Out With Outcasts.
All societies have “in” crowds and “out” groups. In the first century holy land, tax collectors, “loose” women, lepers were definitely out. Jesus hung with them all. Today if certain “types” show up in church, they would create discomfort and be shunned. It may have something to do with their lifestyles, their dress, their body ink, or their reputations. Hang with these types and see how much love you get from the brotherhood.
I am not comfortable with everyone. I tend to hang out with my own “kind.” Though I have lived here for years, there are places I never go and people I would never know.
Jesus was hated because he forgave. For some, it was because he claimed the power to forgive. For most, it was because it was believed some acts are beyond forgiveness.
We have unforgiveable sins today. When I was younger, it was divorce. Then that became too common. Now it tends to be sexual or lifestyle sins. We are okay with gluttony, tax evasion, or materialism. In general, folks are okay with sins they commit and not so much with the sins of others. Jesus extended forgiveness to all. That’s just hateful. We like to think there are worse sinners than us. We love to grade on the curve, with us drawing the curve. We are selective when it comes to sin. Sin looks more sinful on others than it does in the mirror.
If I want to be hated, I have to be more like Jesus. I have to focus on the personal relationship and not on church membership. I have to be open to everyone, not just those with whom I am comfortable. I have to forgive. I have to forgive myself for the things I have done. I have to forgive the sins I understand and the ones that make my skin crawl. I have to really distinguish between the sin and the sinner. That has to be more than something I say. It has to be something I live.
I have to become comfortable with being different, unworldly, and hated. I have to be more like Jesus.