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Did you know that followers of Christ will be hated and persecuted by other people who are living for worldly desires? Sometimes, this anger and hatred can come from other Christians, sometimes from family, sometimes from strangers and sometimes from people that you thought were your friends. It is a hard thing to deal with. I’m going to break down what the Bible says about it and give you some tips for dealing with persecution in your life. To be clear, I have not personally dealt with physical persecution like you sometimes hear about in viral posts on social media or in the news. I have, however, endured people close to me thinking that I am stupid for my beliefs and being vocal about it.
And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:”Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. “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. -Luke 6: 20-23 ESV
Jesus tells believers that even though we may be poor here on earth, the kingdom of God is ours. Even though we may be hungry now, we will be satisfied. Even though we may weep now, we will laugh. To me, those are all more tangible things than what comes next. WHEN people hate you and exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, you are blessed. Not even if we are hated, but when. He tells us to rejoice in that! What?! Rejoice in the day we are hated? Leap for joy? It is pretty contradictory to what our instincts probably are and the “feel good” nature of society. When people hate us for our faith in a God who saves, it is hard to remember that it will be worth it for our reward is great in heaven. It helps, though to remember that others’ words and actions toward me, no matter how awful, will pale in comparison to eternity. Sometimes, in the news, we hear stories of Christians who are captured and tortured to get them to denounce God and they don’t even after brutal torture and awful conditions, sometimes even for months and years. I can’t imagine how hard that would be but it does encourage and motivate me to be strong in my faith in the midst of worldly hatred, exclusion, abusive criticism and rejection and just not being liked. Our relationship with God matters way way more than us being liked by other people.
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. -2 Timothy 3:12-13 ESV
Paul says that all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Not some, but all. He acknowledges that evil people will keep getting worse, being deceived and deceiving others. We should be fighting for truth; it may bring those evil people closer to Christ and/or protect other Christians. Sometimes I feel like I am the only one being hated or spoken down to because of my beliefs but Paul says in 2 Timothy that I am not the only one. It doesn’t make it any more pleasant, but at least I know I’m not the only one.
Maybe you are thinking, “Well that sucks, so now what? I’m going to be hated but I should just keep saying things to be hated? What about self preservation?”
My response to you is, “What about delayed gratification?” We very much live in a want it now, get it now culture. Have you ever sacrificed and saved for something for months or years and when you finally bought it, it was a sweet feeling of the long term sacrifices of little things being so worth it. Or maybe it was studying and doing homework instead of socializing. You sacrificed hanging out with friends and your reward was better grades. As faithful followers of Christ, our short term sacrifice is persecution by the world in exchange for eternity with our Heavenly Father.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kids of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. -Matthew 5:10-12 ESV
This passage is very similar to the passage in Luke, above. We are to be glad in our persecution. Being persecuted can transfer our focus from earthly gifts and rewards to our eternal gift. It can strengthen our faith and get rid of superficial, going-through-the-motions type belief. How we respond to our persecution can be a great witness to others. Full disclosure here: I majorly suck at this. Now that I’ve typed it out and shared it will all of you, I feel the need to honor and trust Him more in my responses to hatred.
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you -Matthew 5:44 ESV
So now, not only are we to be blessed, rejoice and be glad in our persecution and being hated, we are supposed to love those people and pray for them. This just gets harder and harder, doesn’t it? We are called to show love to people who do not love us. This doesn’t mean that we have to feel love but act lovingly and show Christ’s love to them. By doing this, we are showing that Jesus is Lord of our lives. Because, honestly, could you show your enemies love all the time without Jesus. I’m not sure that I could. Even with Jesus, it’s really hard. We don’t have to worry about punishing those people that persecute us. God will take care of that.
To break it down: As followers of and believers in Christ, we will be hated, excluded, reviled and persecuted. We are blessed in that. We are to rejoice and be glad. We are to love our enemies and pray for them. It isn’t easy but it will be worth it. With an estimated 2.5 billion followers of Christ in the world, we are not alone either. It’s pretty easy to react in anger or sadness but are you up for the challenge of responding in a way that is in line with living your life for Christ.
Ways to Deal when you are Feeling the Hate of the World:
- Pray for the brokenness in our world.
- Think of a person that has persecuted you and instead of getting mad, give your anger to God and pray for that person. Maybe even commit to praying for them for a week, a month… One thing that helps me when someone is hateful to me is to think about everything that they *could* be going through that might be making them act in a way that isn’t kind. The truth is that we don’t know all of the details of most peoples lives. If I take a minute to think beyond how I feel, it makes it easier to show them grace.
- Think about and praise God for eternity with Him.
- Thank God for all of the ways that you are blessed. They say that it takes 7 positive things to “cancel out” a negative, so think of 7 ways that you are blessed.
- Remember that you are not alone.
- Continue to show the love of Christ through your actions
evenespecially to those who are not showing that same love to you.
Comment below and let me know how you have felt persecuted and how you responded, or how you would respond if you had a “do over.”
Here are a few more passages that talk about being hated because of faith in Christ if you are interested in some more scripture references:
and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master, if they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. – Matthew 10:22-25 ESV
“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 work, 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. -John 15:18-21 ESV
I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. -John 17:14 ESV
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. -2 Timothy 3:12-15 ESV
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. -1 John 3:11-15 ESV