Most people don’t wake up first thing in the morning with the purpose of trying to get others to hate them. But, hate still exists. It’s a cross that many dedicated people carry.
Business, sports and entertainment all have their hated personalities that normally center around dedication and success.
Biblically, it’s the same. Haters and “hatees” exist, and the premise holds true that the truly dedicated bear the weight of the hatee cross.
Elijah carried it. So did Paul. I was even reminded today of how death threats swirled around Lazarus.
He never hurt anybody. He seems like a nice guy. Jesus loved him so much that he wept when he arrived after the funeral had already taken place. The only possible cause of complaint from others is when he came back to life when Jesus called him from the grave, but today I was shocked to read this in John 12:
But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.
Along with countless others, Lazarus was despised so much that the religious leaders plotted his death. They dreamed and devised away to kill him, because people left the Jewish religion to trust Jesus. Apparently they decided it would be better to go directly after Him than Lazarus.
No, hatred and death threats aren’t new, and they’re certainly not going away.
Because of Jesus, people hated Lazarus. Along with countless others – named and unnamed, remembered and forgotten. Pastor Saeed Abedini, the American pastor suffering a severe 8 year sentence in a cruel Iranian prison, is a prime contemporary example. How many people know his name or realize what has happened to him?
The final verses of Hebrews 11 remind us of this sort of stark reality that completely escapes us in the Western World.
And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. Hebrews 11:32-39
Named and unnamed. Remembered, and sadly, forgotten.
But, let’s just consider for a moment that while the end goal isn’t trying to rack up the highest number of death threats possible…when we live for Jesus, it’s a foregone conclusion, we will be hated by others.
And this shouldn’t come as any real surprise. In 1 John 3:13, the apostle whom Jesus loved wrote,
Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.
With that introduction in mind, I’ll give it to you, simply: 3 quick ways to be hated by others.
- Discredit someone’s religion. Honestly and properly, not with hate of your own. This can be done with some study and relatively good logic. True followers of Jesus realize that being redeemed and stringently following a bunch of do’s and dont’s will never lead to the same place. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he (Lazarus) began to preach Jesus as the Messiah and people started flocking to the Lord in groves. The religious establishment went nuts, threw out all of their morals and started hating Lazarus so much that they threatened to kill him. Why? Because their religion was becoming useless and unappealing. The Pharisees wanted to retain their power and if Lazarus kept undoing what they were trying desperately to hold on to, then he had to go.
- Preach Jesus as the only way man can be reconciled to God. It was Jesus who said it, “…no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” It’s not through Mary, Buddha, Muhammad, Joseph Smith or Steve Jobs. It’s through Christ. Every man needs to be reconciled to God, Jesus is the only way and billions of people have never heard either of these two facts. When you start to tell them that for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years, their ancestors have gotten it all wrong, they may first try to ignore you, but pretty quickly into it, they’ll start to hate you. There are varying degrees of hate that range from social persecution to public beheading, so, if you tell someone that their savior is flawed and insufficient compared to Jesus, you need to be prepared for them to hate you. No matter how much love and humility you have or how good your intentions are, if you tell someone that their guru is a fraud because every knee will one day bow to the Son of God, they’re likely to hate you, and accuse you of preaching hate.
- Live a life that backs up points 1 & 2. You can’t just say that someone’s religion is wrong or bad and expect people to agree with you. The best way to discredit someone’s religion and preach Jesus as the only Savior is by living a Spirit filled life that others see and desire to know more about. If our daily lives and actions don’t prove the stark difference between saving grace in the Lord Jesus and everything thing else, no amount of preaching will convince our friends and family that they need Jesus. Proper theology never makes up for poor conduct. People without Jesus want and need reality. They want and need purity. This takes dedication, and that can be difficult in the face of hatred. Let’s face it. We like to be liked. We’ve just got to decide which outweighs the other. Do we want to be faithful or popular?
If living for Jesus without shame means being hated by others, that’s one cross that I want to carry.