Hate is a strong word. Unfortunately, I have felt it…said it and see it every day. All you have to do is turn on the television and watch the news. Hate thrives in the world we live in. Nothing is really different…from the days Jesus walked the earth ’til now.
In John 15 we read and learn from Jesus as He instructs His disciples on hate in the world, especially the hate that exists if you are a Christ-follower. In verses 18 and 19 of this chapter Jesus says, “‘If the world hates you, keep in mind it hated me first. If you belong 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.'”
There are many things we can all pick to hate…from a food, to a movie, to a politician, to a rival school, to a lifestyle choice….you name it……! Hate is a strong word that carries a strong emotion. The post isn’t about how we all differ in “WHAT” we “hate,” but more about: If you experience hate, are you being hated for the right reasons?
For those who believe in Jesus, they believe He is God’s Son. He “became flesh and dwelt among us.” He died on the cross… paying the debt for our sins through His death. He was buried and on the third day He rose from the dead ….and today He sits at the right hand of His Father. If you are in that group of believers, you also believe He sent his Holy Spirit to live in anyone who believes and accepts Him as their personal Savior. If this belief describes you, then, as John 15 points outs, you will be hated at some point in life.
Plain and simple……Scripture…refers to the “world” as anyone who does not receive nor choose to believe in Jesus. People who lead their own lives neither acknowledging nor trusting in Jesus. Jesus even reminds us in John 15:25, “‘…they hated me without reason.'”
So what are we to do as Christians if we find that we are hated for the right reasons?
First, don’t be surprised by it. Scripture is very clear. John 15:20, “‘If they persecuted me, they will persecute you as well.'”
Second, how do we live with the hate? John 15:5 tell us, “‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me YOU CAN DO NOTHING.'” [emphasis mine] Regardless of the hate we may experience or feel…we have to Abide in Christ…in His Word and in His presence. What we cannot do is take on the mindset that we should not be hated but rather allow the Word to be in us–to live by it, honor it, and rely on the Holy Spirit’s power within us to direct our thinking, our actions and our response.
Hate for Hate is not the appropriate response…that would be our “flesh, our sin nature”. The right response? God’s love. In our own strength…we are not capable of returning love when we face hate. That is when Christ’s power is made strong in our weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:8, “For my power is made perfect in your weakness.”
Point of post…when you experience hate or persecution because of your love for Jesus…give back love to the hater. Allow Christ’s power to be demonstrated in your life. As Jesus was dying on the cross, He prayed for his murderers. He asked God to forgive them. He said, “…for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:24).
Jesus is our example…allow his Power to be manifested in and through you when you experience Hate because of HIM.
Returning good for evil….can only be done through abiding in HIM…we love because HE first loved us.