“All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
These are sobering words by Jesus Himself. ‘All men will hate you’…not necessarily the foundation one would typically lay out to start a movement. It doesn’t quite garner a rush of people trying to get on board to your vision but, it’s precisely what Jesus said.
All throughout the New Testament writings, we see this same thought repeated – that as a believer, we will incur opposition to our beliefs and the Gospel which we are to proclaim. This line of thought runs contrary to much of contemporary Christianity today. Much of what you hear when you turn on Christian television is a call to something that resembles Christianity on the surface but when you dig down a bit, well…not so much. Why? The reason is simple. When the Bible is preached, it offends. Plain and simple. In today’s world, offense doesn’t fill pews and it doesn’t make people feel good – at least not initially.
The apostle Paul spoke about this in his letter to the Galatian church. He was preaching against circumcision, which was part of the mosaic law which had been followed for centuries by the Jewish people. Actually, circumcision has its roots in the covenant God made with Abraham far before the law was ever introduced to Moses on Mount Sinai, so it was a big deal to the Jews but under the new covenant made by Jesus Christ, it had been done away with. This didn’t sit well with many of the Jews. Paul preached freedom in Christ, which didn’t include the need to be circumcised in one’s flesh at birth.
“Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, then why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished.” Galatians 5:11
Paul was being persecuted for his faith. What he was declaring wasn’t popular with the people who thought they had the religious thing all figured out. However, he took his stand upon his faith in Christ, and drew a line in the sand from which he would not cross or yield. He was disliked, mocked and ridiculed but, he preached the truth anyway. Are we called to do any less?
He reiterates this point in another verse:
“Am I now trying to win the approval of men or of God. Or am I still trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
The Gospel offends. It goes against the ways of this world and it goes against even our own intellect. That’s right. Our minds and thoughts are often contrary to the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus. This happens even in the church today. Many churches today are compromising their convictions and what the Word of God states, to somehow become more socially acceptable. The line in the sand hasn’t been drawn or, the line is sitting too close to the world and it’s way of doing things. This is plainly wrong. Jesus Himself told us the world would hate us. He said:
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged 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.”
Why does the world hate us? Because we are not of this world. Once born again, we have God’s nature within and His nature is 180 degrees opposite from the ways of the world. Scripture plainly tells us the devil is running this world and its system of doing things (Eph 2:1-5) As the body of Christ, we need to preach truth and live by truth, even if that means persecution from the world and the church. Unfortunately, if you start to really live for the Lord, even much of the church today may ostracize you. This happens because too many Christians want to bear the name of Christ but not the lifestyle. Jesus didn’t die, become separated from His Father, and go to hell so that you could lay claim to faith in Him, while living your life as if you are the devil himself. Hebrews 10:26-35 plainly speaks against such things.
We aren’t called to be ‘Seeker Sensitive’ churches but rather ‘sensitive to the seeker’. That means being sensitive to the sin and unbelief which separates humanity from God. That calls for a willingness to say and do things which will offend at times. But if our heart is bathed in the love of God, we will pine for the lost with a heart that is willing to get hurt and be rejected, all for the hope of bringing people to Jesus!
The Christian is also called to holiness – to be separate from the world’s ways. We are called to live our lives with Jesus as Lord and us in submission to His Words (the Bible). This Lordship and submission brings life and direction. Not just to the Christian but to the lost person as well. Truth hurts. It stings but, truth when delivered in love, brings change unto God! The apostle Paul touches on this in his second letter to the Corinthian church:
“Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter I do not regret it. Though I did regret it I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while – yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended…Godly sorry brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret but worldly sorrow brings only death.”
2 Corinthians 7:8-11
We see in these verses that truth brings change – good change – God change! Offense because of Biblical truth hurts but eventually it brings change which leads to godliness and salvation! Let’s speak that truth to the lost and to the church. Let’s live truth to the lost and in the church. We can’t back down from what the Bible teaches, just because it goes against social norms. Jesus went against both social and religious norms. If the Word of God says it, then that should settle it. Be willing to stand up for your faith in the face of trial and persecution and the Holy Spirit will use you to mightily change those around you.
“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in Heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in Heaven.”