August 7, 2019 | Wanda Alger, IFA Field Correspondent
In these days of increased hostility and the war of words and beliefs, it’s very easy for believers to be discouraged. In our efforts to love the lost and be good witnesses to those who doubt, we can find it hard when people criticize, ridicule, and even mock us. Yet, if we are truly following the way of Christ, we shouldn’t be surprised.
Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. (1 John 3:13 ESV)
Right before He went to the cross, Jesus warned His followers that the world would never accept them or the message they brought. Because of the enemy’s hatred of Him and His Father, He wanted to prepare them for the battles ahead. He specifically asked His Father to watch over these who would experience this same hatred and rage that He had encountered during His time on earth.
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. I do not ask that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. (John 17:14-17 ESV)
The Christian persecution that has affected other nations for years is now facing the Church in America. Though we have not experienced the levels of physical violence that others have, believers are being targeted for nothing else than our commitment to Christ and our belief in the Word of God. Anyone that takes a stand for biblical values is scrutinized, vilified, and deemed dangerous to those who disagree. Though we may not have imagined this day coming as it has, it appears we shouldn’t be surprised. Nor should we be discouraged.
Jesus not only empowered us to overcome this hatred through love, but He released the Holy Spirit as our Divine Helper in overcoming the opposition (see John 16:7-11). He asked His Father to “keep” us from evil; not to “take us out” of the evil, but to empower us through. Rather than praying that we would be rescued from the evil one, Jesus prayed that we would be sanctified and set apart for the Father’s purpose, right in the middle of the opposition.
We do this by walking in the Truth and reflecting the Father’s heart. It is God’s Word that sanctifies us and His love that purifies us so that we can rise above those who reject us or mistreat us and share powerful truths to set others free. When we know what is true, good, and right, we will stand firm and not be swayed by the criticisms, mockery, and threats. When we truly care about those who disagree with us, the truth we share will carry a heaven-sent grace that can transform even the hardest of hearts.
As Jesus said, we are not of this world. We don’t belong. We are citizens of another Kingdom serving higher purposes. What is life-giving to us is foolishness to the world. Even so, we have a commission to fulfill while here. Just as His disciples did, we must continue to preach the Kingdom of God without apology. We must continue to raise the name of Jesus above all other names. We must continue to boldly speak of God’s goodness even in the midst of deep darkness. We must love those who oppose us and care about those who misrepresent us. Even though there are those who will continually reject Christ and the message we bring, there are many who deeply long to hear the good news of the Kingdom. We cannot allow the hatred of the world to stop us from fulfilling our mandate.
Let us not shrink back from those who hate the truth and scorn our cause. Let’s not be surprised or shocked when we are mistreated, harassed, or falsely accused. Rather, let us pursue righteousness, peace, and joy through the Holy Spirit. Let us be set apart through our words and actions which demonstrate the supernatural love and goodness of our God. May the world see a Love that is so powerful, those who follow Him will never turn back and no hate will ever be powerful enough to stop it.