TO CHEW ON: "Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you." 1 John 3:13
There is within the DNA of the gospel, something that "the world" finds intrinsically offensive. I'm not sure if I can put my finger on it exactly but it seems to have something to do with:
- Jesus' claims of uniqueness ("'I am the way the truth and the life.'" John 14:6) and Christianity's tone of certainty about Jesus as the only way to God ("Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” Acts 4:12).
- Jesus' certainty about the fate of anyone who doesn't believe in Him (" 'He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.' ” John 3:36)
- God's authority versus our human dislike of anyone being the boss of us (Satan tapped into that when, in answer to Eve's objection to eating Eden's forbidden fruit, he contradicted God and said " 'You shall not surely die' " - Genesis 3:4,5)
- The way the gospel cancels out our human efforts to save ourselves ("But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away" - Isaiah 64:6).
Though western societies have long tolerated, even upheld Christian beliefs, a new definition of "tolerance" is chilling the atmosphere toward Christians. Increasingly attempts to defend a lifestyle that corresponds with the Bible's standards are even labeled hate speech (in that such defenses are seen as intolerant of alternate lifestyles). (For an exposé of this new intolerant tolerance, read Albert Mohler's interview with theologian D. A. Carson after the release of Carson's new book The Intolerance of Tolerance.)
To those of us who have grown up at a time and in a place where Christian ideas were mainstream, this is a shock. We're not used to being disliked, ridiculed, made fun of, even hated. But in the grand scheme of history, love of Christianity and Christians is the exception rather than the rule.
What do we do about this? Our gut reaction—my gut reaction—is to pray that things will change, that the climate toward Christians will warm. But that's not what the early Christians did. Look at how they prayed after Peter and John were imprisoned, then hauled before the Jewish rulers and told to shut up or else:
"And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus” Acts 4:29-30 NLT
Do we dare pray the same way?
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I love such boldness in the face of persecution. Help me to have the mindset that isn't cowed by criticism and hatred, but takes courage in who You are and what You can do. Please give me New Testament boldness. Amen.
MORE: D. A. Carson says...
"...I want to argue that people have the right to believe or not to believe, to believe what they want, and yet the secular wants our beliefs to be so privatized that they have nothing to say to the public arena. ...But Christians can’t live that way. ... What Christians cannot allow is to keep their voices silent just because they’re Christians" - D. A. Carson, "Tolerance on Trial: A Conversation with D. A. Carson.********
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.